Relapse prevention and the substance-abusing criminal offender: An executive briefing

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Programs designed to address relapse prevention are a critical component of alcohol and drug abuse treatment for criminal justice populations. Relapse to drug use is a common problem for recovering individuals-it is one of many symptoms of the condition of alcohol and other drug dependency. Even after the most intensive course of substance abuse treatment, many patients are vulnerable to a return to using drugs or alcohol. Many offenders, even when they are motivated to follow aftercare recommendations, may be unable to maintain abstinence without help and treatment in a specialized relapse prevention program. Treatment programs within the criminal justice system and within communities can greatly benefit this vulnerable population by helping patients build their relapse prevention skills as part of the treatment process. This report can be useful as a toolfor those who (1) want to understand the process of addiction and relapse and (2) want to plan or set up relapse prevention programming for peri~ons under criminal justice supervision, whether they are in custody or diversion, on probation, in community corrections, or supervised by parole agencies.


Eds./Jan.-Dec. 1994