Is rehab worse than jail?

Drug rehab is a much better alternative to jail time for many people struggling with addiction. Comparing the benefits of rehabilitation to jail time is crucial when analyzing those in the system for drug-related offenses. People who struggle with substance abuse and addiction are more likely to end up with drug charges. Research has long supported the importance of comprehensive drug treatment for substance use disorders.

However, there is little evidence to support the effectiveness of prison in mitigating drug abuse and addiction in our communities. In fact, research has shown that incarceration doesn't work to reduce drug abuse, overdose, or even drug-related crime. Because of the positive effects of rehabilitation centers, psychologists have been bringing some of their practices to inmates with addictions. Rehabilitation programs are designed to help people with substance abuse problems recover from dependence and become productive members of society.

Some rehabilitation tools include providing healthy coping mechanisms, group meetings and therapy sessions, sobriety plans, and more. Compared to prison practices, the rehabilitation approach to addiction therapy varies greatly. Clearly, it seems that rehabilitation programs are more delicately designed for those dealing with substance abuse problems. However, in some cases, jail time may be the only option.

So how can we help people overcome addiction regardless of their environment? At the end of the day, we can fight substance abuse by helping people free themselves from drugs; and right now, a rehabilitation center is the best place to achieve that goal. When you're in jail, you may lose access to drugs or alcohol, but without treatment, you don't lose your desire to have them. Your brain is still prepared to associate addictive substances with pleasure or comfort, and prison doesn't change that. Once you get out of jail, you're likely to return to substance abuse.

However, since then, rehabilitation has taken a backseat with a crime-hardening approach that sees punishment as the primary function of prison, Haney says. The approach has created explosive growth in the prison population, while having a modest effect on crime rates. Perhaps the most important reason rehabilitation is better than jail is that addicts and alcoholics in jail, unless they participate in some kind of recovery program during incarceration, are returned to their communities without any type of support system that encourages them to remain abstinent.