Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wishful Thinking Trumps Incontrovertible Evidence:

A recent contribution to the Journal of Addiction (105:1311-1313, 2010) describes a survey of opiate substitution treatment (OST) policies and practices in prisons that found "...only 55% of prisons in the US provide methadone to inmates in any [emphasis in original] circumstance, and most provide only to pregnant women". Overall the authors conclude "only a minute fraction of the estimated 200,000 incarcerated individuals with opiate dependence have access to OST [and] the overwhelming majority also do not offer referral to OST providers ... upon release..."

And the rationale the authors ascribe to respondents: "These policies reflect a common misconception that opiate dependence is cured when drug use and withdrawal symptoms cease ...". In the face of notoriously high recidivism rates (to say nothing of the well-documented mortality rates during the initial weeks after release), it is truly difficult, even for the most cynical of observers, to accept that this truly is the prevailing belief of prison authorities (or anyone else).


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