Substance abuse treatment for those in the criminal justice system is slightly different from the one used for the general population. People in criminal justice face a host of challenges during their stay at a rehab facility. They may have a history of psychosocial problems, like interpersonal conflicts with family members, difficulty in sustaining long-term relationships, trouble in gaining and retaining a job, lack of educational and vocational skills, anger and stress management, and emotional and psychological disorders, which may complicate their rehab experience. Further, these issues might pave the way for the development of other mental disorders such as anxiety and depression, converting the treatment process to that used in dual diagnosis treatment centers.
Even basic skills like cooking a meal, arranging housing and looking for a sustainable job are far-fetched tasks for criminal offenders with substance use disorders (SUDs) or dual diagnosis. Therefore, addiction treatment counselors in rehabs have to help them meet these basic life needs in addition to motivating them to find novel ways of addressing their feelings and control impulses. Setting boundaries and confronting manipulation are also some of the chronic challenges faced by substance abuse counselors.
Challenges presented by criminal offenders
Though, any recovery process is a lifelong process and has some difficulties, the case stands truer for criminal offenders in rehab. Some of the challenges presented by such patients during their stay at an inpatient dual diagnosis treatment center include:
- Denial – For those in criminal justice, denial of substance abuse and criminal activity goes hand in hand. Denial could have stemmed because of someone’s criminal thought process. In some instances, though the offenders admit to an addiction, so that they are sent to a treatment center rather than prison, they might not intrinsically believe that they have a problem. Further, offenders might not accept their criminal activities for they do not believe that they are wrong or harming anybody. Even after accepting their drug abuse and criminal activity, they may deny changing their lifestyle to improvise.
- Resistance – Resistance is also one of the fundamental roadblocks to recovery. Sending criminal offenders for treatment under threat without any incentive and the perceived loss of freedom may consolidate their resistance to treatment. This resistance may arise due to a person’s fear of detoxification and withdrawal symptoms and uncertainty about life in recovery. Acceding to addiction treatment might also give them a feeling of loss of control over their lives. People from criminal backgrounds might find it exceedingly difficult to surrender themselves to treatment as they fail to understand that substance abuse controls their lives. They should be therefore, dealt with sensitivity, patience and honesty.
- Feelings of guilt, shame and stigma – Many criminal offenders, especially the first-timers, struggle with feelings of guilt and shame after they lose their social standing. These feelings might be positive if they motivate an offender to seek help for their substance abuse problems. On the other hand, such feelings of guilt and shame might not even cross some offenders as they might have antisocial personalities or they may be from criminal families where crime and substance abuse are not considered a moral failure. In addition, the criminal justice system and correctional officers might stigmatize the offenders, which is further reinforced by the society, families and even media.
- Dual-diagnosis offenders – Chronic substance abuse might lead to the development of a mental disorder or vice-versa. In such a case, the treatment program for both substance abuse and mental disorder has to go hand-in-hand. If only one aspect of the problem is addressed, the patient fails to recover and in cases they do, chances of relapse become high. It is thus important to identify offenders with dual diagnosis and help them provide a holistic treatment plan.
Seeking help for dual diagnosis
People coming from a criminal background have a complex personality. Along with substance use, they are also prone to mental illnesses because of long-term use or because of their lifestyles. It is important that the treatment provided to such a special population comprises of both the verticals.
If you or your loved one is suffering from any co-occurring disorders, it is advisable to seek necessary medical help before things spiral out of control. To know more about residential dual diagnosis treatment centers in your area, connect with the Dual Diagnosis Helpline. You may call at our 24/7 helpline 855-981-6047 or chat online with one of our representatives to know about the various inpatient dual diagnosis treatment centers in your vicinity.