Helping Prisoners With Their Substance Abuse Problems

People argue about crime and punishment. The justice system is ever evolving and forever being discussed. One issue regards the treatment of prisoners in our jails. Should they be helped? Is prison there to punish or to rehabilitate or both? These issues are particularly important when we consider drugs.

Substance abuse is a major factor in the cause of crime and substance abuse for prisoners when in jail is also a dangerous and ongoing problem while they are incarcerated. There is no doubt the federal government wants to reduce crime and to that end provides millions of dollars each year to fund programs in jails. The money filters down through state and local authorities but it does come with certain strings attached. There is no program where money is thrown at the problem in some wild hope the program will work.

There are many conditions under which funds are granted for substance abuse programs.

– The program must run for at least 6 months
– The venue for the sessions must be isolated from the rest of the prison
– A total or whole life approach must be pinpointed and
– Specific substance abuse must be the target of the program

When you think that some US$10million was spent on drug rehabilitation programs for prisoners in American jails in 2008 you can see that this is a major offensive with the clear goal of helping prisoners become drug free once they leave prison. From a money point of view, sending a prisoner back into society with few if any living skills is a waste of money. The prisoner will likely go back to crime and end up where they started. It makes sound economical sense to help prisoners stay out of jail.

Of course from a humane point of view, helping people with a drug problem is always the best option for the individual and for society.

So do the programs work? Well any test needs to [a] cater for a large number of prisoners who have undertaken the program and [b] to be held over many years. To date the jury is still out on the effectiveness of such programs.

The content of the programs for prisoners is pretty much the same used for people with a drug problem who are not in jail. There are two aspects of all programs. They want to help the addict kick their habit and they want to impart skills to help the addict remain drug free in the future. Both are essential.

In jail, the prisoner has to overcome the need for substance abuse and then remain drug free, hopefully for life.

Naturally there are people who speak out against the programs. They argue that prisons are there as a place of punishment. That is true of course but sending a prisoner back into society for him or her to take up their life of crime again benefits nobody. Common sense suggests that removing prisoners from their substance abuse habit can only help both the individual and society.

Open Your Doors – Start A Substance Abuse Ministry

I received an interesting request to share information about starting a substance abuse ministry from a couple of readers who have read some of my recently published articles.

I know that there is an overwhelming demand for religious centered substance abuse programs in urban communities. Beyond requests for prayer or referrals, churches are seeking a better response to the outpouring of requests to help addicts in their congregation or community. Most of the demand is driven by the sheer volume of addicts and high risk behaviors leading to drug abuse.

Why a faith-based substance abuse ministry? It satisfies a spiritual void that most addicts are looking to fill. Unlike traditional approaches to substance abuse recovery, the faith-based substance abuse ministry connects religious approaches to tools toward recovery. Furthermore, there is a need.

Here is some information if you are looking to establish a substance abuse ministry.

Identify Your Target
Determine if you are going to focus on your congregants or include those outside the congregation. Knowing your target will help you shape your program design for one audience or two.

Set Clear Goals and Purpose
Having clear goals and purpose for the ministry are a must. Are you working with the individual or the individual and his or her family? Are you purposefully going to proselytize to non-believers? Your goals and purpose can be framed into your mission and philosophy statements.

Create A Belief Statement
The belief statement is the fundamental principle behind your substance abuse faith ministry. You can use the belief statement as an affirmation recited before every meeting.

Design An Orientation and Training Manual
You will need to have the ability to conduct orientations for participants and create training and recruiting tools to offer program facilitators.

Find Facilitators and Train Them
Look for people who are delivered from drug and alcohol addiction or have a heart for it. A person familiar with the recovery process will be best suited and will exhibit a passion for the calling. Orient and train them in the principles of the ministry and recovery services that will be offered to participants.

Advertise
Advertise that you are starting a recovery program. You can advertise many ways, in your church bulletin, using social media, or by placing a banner outside of your church. Once you advertise, people will come.

Set a Date
Establish a date and time for regular meetings. Most importantly, you must be consistent because participants are depending on you and will get into a habit of attending at a specified time and a place.

Hold a Meeting
Bask in the moment of knowing that you have created a successful substance abuse ministry. Holding a meeting is one of the most rewarding moments and accomplishments in your faith.

Share the Message
Once your substance abuse ministry is running successfully, spread the good news with others. Ministry is about sharing so that others can be brought into the body. Don’t keep it to yourself.

A word of advice is that a substance abuse ministry is more than a prayer. It is a connection to recovery using faith principles. If you want your substance abuse ministry to be successful, you will need dedication and devotion.

How to Stop Substance Abuse and Drug Addiction

Most people associate dangerous addiction with the use of illegal drugs, but substance abuse consists of any dangerous dependence, including alcoholism and reliance on prescription drugs. For centuries, substance abuse was regarded by society as a personal failing or moral fault, and addicts were shunned and forced to the fringes of the community. Substance abuse today is recognized as a disease, typified by the brain becoming reliant on certain substances to deliver neurotransmitters like dopamine or serotonin. Street drugs like marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines react with the brain in a similar way to legal addictives, such as alcohol, tobacco, and inhalants.

These substances all increase the production of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, resulting in various “highs,” drunkenness, or relaxation of the nerves and it is this rise in dopamine levels which is the root of substance abuse. As drug abusers, alcoholics, pill poppers or cigarette smokers continue to engage in substance abuse, their brains eventually lose the ability to produce critical neurotransmitters on their own. Because dopamine and similar neurotransmitters are responsible for feelings like pleasure, the drug user becomes dependent on the substance being abused which causes the intense cravings and feelings of addiction.

Fortunately for the victims of chemical dependency, societal attitudes towards addiction have softened and treatment programs for drug, alcohol, prescription pills or tobacco use are commonplace. Rehabilitation clinics strive to assist those suffering from substance abuse, helping them to cope with their cravings incrementally, and providing personal, psychological, and spiritual guidance through the recovery process. There are national substance abuse programs, such as the 12-step Narcotics Anonymous (NA) and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), psychiatric help, medicinal options and even loving support from friends and family can help addicts rid themselves of their dependencies.

People afflicted with substance addictions can rely on an extremely accessible network of meetings, found in almost every city or town in the country, which serve as a coping mechanism, a therapy session, and a confessional at the same time. Drug testing kits are now readily and cheaply available for home use to help stop the addictions privately. Substance abuse is worth the efforts being made to combat it, because the damage caused by addiction is extensive and far reaching. Almost every aspect of society, from the legal system and the medical field to families and schools, is touched in some way by the destructive power of substance abuse, and the battle to prevent dangerous addictions will always be one worth fighting.

Help put a stop to substance abuse and chemical dependency by interfering and impeding at the first signs of addiction. Openly talking to the individual about your concerns and the effects of their addiction is the first stride towards acceptance and recovery. Do not be afraid to drug test at the first signs of misuse. This is especially true of prescription pills abuse as many individuals do not view Oxycontin or Vicodin as habit forming because of a prescription.

There are many home drug tests that can uncover traces of harmful narcotics like Percocet and the mind altering diazepams Xanax or Valium. Alcohol breathalyzers and oral saliva testing kits are available to discover a hidden drinking habit. Regardless of the specific substance addiction, there are many options available to help stop the cycle of drug dependency.

Anger in Substance Abuse Recovery

Anger in substance abuse recovery can be potentially dangerous. On its own, the emotion can cause high blood pressure which can lead to stroke; depression, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders and a number of other physical conditions.

Drug abuse such as cocaine and heroin, as well as alcohol abuse can not only increase an individual’s anger but it can aggravate unresolved emotions and be a revolving door to further alcohol and drug abuse as a coping mechanism. When it is combined with alcohol and drug abuse and addiction, it is important that the individual seek a substance abuse program that includes anger management in the recovery process.

Managing Aggression throughout Recovery

Individuals who have alcohol or drug abuse will act out their aggression in one or more ways including becoming physical such as punching, kicking or hitting. In some cases, the individual may vent their hostilities against a person or situation. It is not uncommon for individuals to seek revenge against the object of their feelings. On the other hand, some individuals never learn how to let out their emotions and so they hold it inside or they will avoid the source of their anger and refuse to acknowledge it. This type of internalized anger can be as damaging to the self as externalizing the emotion.

Persons struggling for balance find that participating in meditation or yoga helps them to manage their anger. Learning to take a deep breath and calm down and evaluate the situation before they react is also helpful. Additionally, developing ways to communicate aggression in ways that do not resort to physical or verbal abuse can help manage anger productively.

Best Methods for Treatment

Most substance abuse recovery counselors believe that when there is both anger and substance abuse, it is best to treat them at the same time. Therapy should be included to help the individual in recovery understand their rage, such as its origins, the triggers that aggravate it and how to effectively process it. Holistic therapies including meditation, yoga and acupuncture can help individuals remain calm and teaches techniques to control their emotions. Some counselors also recommend that the individual participate in group therapy.

Many individuals discover that after their substance abuse has ended, that they are not as angry or that it is not as easily triggered – in other words, they are able to better control their emotions. They also find that it is easier to understand their aggression, the reasons behind it and most realize that without drugs and alcohol abuse, the emotion is not as prevalent in their life.