Women inmates are sitting in prisons and jails across the country with more instances of addiction than ever before. A new report, released by the government shows that 69% of female state prisoners and 72% of female jail prisoners are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol. These rates are higher than the male population and higher than the average U.S. population as well.
It turns out, according to the study, that women inmates have higher rates of addiction but they also have higher rates of depression and anxiety that their male counterparts, problems that oftentimes lead to drug abuse. And these inmates are not getting the treatment they need while incarcerated. Instead of enrolling drug addicts in treatment programs while they are in jail, many inmates are left to wait out their sentences without any help for their problems. The study noted that only 28% of state inmates and 22% of jail inmates received treatment while incarcerated. These numbers are extremely low when one looks at the volume of addicts housed within the prison walls. But, this statistic also seems to be the most manageable to change at this point. Offering more treatment options, perhaps making treatment mandatory for those that have committed drug-related crimes could help many inmates from reoffending after their sentences have been served.
“In order to reduce crime and save taxpayer dollars, the U.S. Justice system must address addiction and substance abuse as health problems and provide effective intervention and treatment. Incarceration alone cannot prevent or treat a disease,” cautions the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
Marijuana was the most common drug the inmates were addicted to, followed by cocaine and then heroin and other opioids. Additionally, it appears that white inmates are struggling with addiction more than black and Hispanic inmates.
But, some states are working hard to improve the lives of inmates with addiction problems. Texas has recently added treatment facilities, specifically for drug addicted inmates and have also implemented treatment programs that are required before the inmate can be released back into society.