Addiction and Prison Sentences

Addiction can negatively impact your time in prison. It’s natural to be worried about your treatment as you prepare for prison

While federal laws have ordered the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to improve how people with addictions are treated during their sentences, real help for your addiction may be difficult to obtain. Your attorney and prison consultant should have made sure your addiction was treated properly in your PSR. If you are dealing with addiction, here’s what to expect during your time in prison and the programs that may be available in your facility.

Problems You May Face If You Have an Addiction

The most significant issue facing most addicted people before a prison sentence is withdrawal. Obviously, illegal, unprescribed, and recreational substances are considered contraband and not permitted within the facility. Furthermore, most facilities in the US do not offer medication-assisted treatment for addictions and withdrawals. 

If you are actively addicted to a substance when you enter prison, you will experience withdrawal symptoms during the first days and weeks of your sentence. You are unlikely to receive specific medical care for these symptoms unless you experience a health emergency. This can make it much harder to adjust to your new surroundings.

As such, one of the best things you can do for yourself before your sentence is to withdraw from your substance of choice. Before you are required to report for incarceration, consult with a medical professional about the safest way to taper off your substance. It will be easier to handle outside of prison in familiar surroundings with support from your doctor.

Programs Available for Prisoners Facing Addiction

The BOP has implemented drug addiction treatment programs at most federal facilities. These programs can help you understand your addictive tendencies and the consequences of addiction and provide support for you as you fight the condition. You may be required to take these programs depending on the details included in your Pre-Sentencing Report (PSR). The most common addiction treatment programs in BOP facilities include:

Drug Abuse Education Classes

Many facilities offer an initial drug abuse education course to educate all inmates on substance abuse. In addition, these courses allow facility staff to identify people who may need more in-depth treatment. 

Nonresidential Drug Abuse Treatment 

This program is a form of group Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It lasts for weeks and attempts to teach participants to understand the root of their addictions. The program is intended to help participants build skills that can help them avoid falling into old, addictive patterns of behavior. It’s designed for people with short sentences, new to a facility, or waiting for a place in a more intensive program. It’s available at many, but not all, BOP facilities. 

Residential Drug Abuse Program 

People with significant addictions may be enrolled in a Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), the most intense treatment program offered by the BOP. This program removes participants from the general population and allows them to live in a separate community with like inmates for months. 

The program’s purpose is to give addicted inmates access to dedicated support, education, and vocational opportunities to help them overcome their addictions and successfully return to society. Only certain facilities offer RDAP, but you may be able to request placement at these facilities if you believe you would benefit. Your PSR can be extremely helpful in obtaining this treatment program. These programs also trim significant amounts of time off of your sentence, so they may benefit you in multiple ways. 

Community Treatment Services

The BOP also offers services for people in home confinement or residential reentry centers. Community Treatment Services will connect you with local treatment providers and community support so you can receive help for your addiction without being in prison. 

Protect Yourself by Working with Experienced Prison Consultants

You shouldn’t have to face a prison sentence and addiction alone. The right support can make all the difference when it comes to how your addiction impacts your prison experience. You can work with a qualified prison consultant to ensure you receive the best possible support for your substance use disorder before, during, and after your sentence. Get in touch with the experts at Liberty Advisors to learn more about how we can help.


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