A new report found significantly lower rates of substance abuse disorders among probationers and parolees in 2009 compared to previous years. At the same time the percentage of parolees who received substance abuse treatment increased. The study also found the rate of probationers and parolees who reported an unmet need for substance abuse treatment was lower in 2009 than in previous years.
In terms of mental disorders, the study found that probationers and parolees were more likely than the general population to receive some mental health treatment. However, they were also more likely to report an unmet need for mental health treatment. The rate of probationers and parolees with mental disorders who accessed treatment or reported an unmet treatment remained unchanged over the years the study covered.
"While increased access to substance abuse treatment for people on probation or parole is welcome news, the study shows how much more work there is to do to improve community reentry for offenders with mental and substance use disorders," said Pamela S. Hyde, administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. "At the same time, we need to focus on preventing substance abuse and mental illness before it starts and when appropriate offer diversion to treatment and recovery support instead of incarceration."
"We are heartened by the good news that substance abuse disorders among probationers and parolees have decreased while treatment needs are increasingly met," said Laurie O. Robinson, Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs. "Rates of drug abuse are much higher among adults in correctional systems than in the general population, so treating and preventing drug abuse disorders is significant in ensuring public safety."
The study, Mental Disorders and Drug Abuse among Adult Men on Probation or Parole: Some Success against a Persistent Challenge, was produced by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in collaboration with the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). It is based on data from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
The researchers identified changes in substance abuse and mental health measures among males age 18-49 by comparing 2009 estimates to estimates from previous years. Additionally, estimates for probationers and parolees were compared with individuals not on correctional supervised release based on several years of pooled NSDUH data. A copy of the NSDUH report is available at http://www.oas.samhsa.gov/nsduh.htm
SAMHSA is a public health agency within the Department of Health and Human Services. Its mission is to reduce the impact of substance abuse and mental illness on America’s communities.