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Treating Drug Abuse and Addiction in the Criminal Justice System: Improving Public Health and Safety

NCJ Number
JAMA Volume: 301 Issue: 2 Dated: January 14, 2009 Pages: 183-190
Redonna K. Chandler Ph.D.; Bennett W. Fletcher Ph.D.; Nora D. Volkow M.D.
Date Published
January 2009
8 pages
This article examines the benefits of providing treatment programs for drug-abusing offenders involved in the criminal justice system.
Despite increasing evidence that addiction is a treatable disease of the brain, most individuals do not receive treatment. Involvement in the criminal justice system often results from illegal drug-seeking behavior and participation in illegal activities that reflect, in part, disrupted behavior ensuing from brain changes triggered by repeated drug use. Treating drug-involved offenders provides a unique opportunity to decrease substance abuse and reduce associated criminal behavior. Emerging neuroscience has the potential to transform traditional sanction-oriented public safety approaches by providing new therapeutic strategies against addiction that could be used in the criminal justice system. We summarize relevant neuroscientific findings and evidence-based principles of addiction treatment that, if implemented in the criminal justice system, could help improve public health and reduce criminal behavior. Tables, figure, and references (Published Abstract)