Home > What works. Alcohol and other drug interventions in prisons.

Bartle, Jarryd and Bothwell, Steven and Lee, Nicole and Jenner, Linda (2021) What works. Alcohol and other drug interventions in prisons. Melbourne: 360Edge.

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People with alcohol and other drug problems are over-represented in the criminal justice system and prisons provide a unique opportunity to address these problems. The relationship between alcohol and other drug use and crime is complex and treatment in justice settings should reflect evidence-based practice, and target factors that are associated with criminal behaviour. It is important to address the needs of subpopulations of prisoners. These include women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders People, young adults, individuals with low literacy, those from diverse cultural and language backgrounds, and prisoners with co-occurring mental health issues or an acquired brain injury.

Evidence of effectiveness is strong for:
• Prison needle and syringe programs
• Tailored cognitive behavioural therapy programs (both short- and long-term)
• Individual counselling
• Opioid substitution therapy
• Therapeutic communities
• Exit preparation programs (including pre-release centres)

Evidence of effectiveness is moderate for:
• Motivational interviewing
• Therapeutic groups

Evidence of effectiveness is insufficient for:
• Peer educator programs
• Contingency management
• Twelve-step peer support groups, except as an adjunct to therapeutic interventions
• Mindfulness based relapse prevention over ‘traditional’ cognitive behavioural therapy

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