Alcohol Abuse Treatment Programs Reduce Chance of Future Criminal Offenses

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New research published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows criminal offenders with alcohol problems who enter an alcohol treatment program as part of their sentence are drastically less likely to be charged or convicted of another crime during the 12 months following their treatment.

8063800The researchers from Plymouth University in the U.K. say alcohol treatment programs also offer cost benefits, as the cost of treating someone for alcohol abuse in a community-based treatment program is approximately 37 times less than the cost of incarcerating a single person in prison.

For this study, the researchers observed males with alcohol addiction issues and related criminal offenses. At the start of the study, the individuals had been assigned a wide range of different treatments.

Using data from these individuals criminal histories, the researchers calculated the participants’ charged and reconviction rated for the next year and observed offenders who did not receive treatment were more than twice as likely to be charged with another crime and two and a half times more likely to be reconvicted.

“Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been one of the most common methods to reduce alcohol use, and the judicial systems in the United Kingdom and the United States have specifically identified CBT alcohol treatment programs as the chief method to break the link between alcohol and crime,” said researchers, led by Ph.D. student Marie Needham, Dr. Michaela Gummerum and Dr. Yaniv Hanoch from Plymouth University.

“Our findings provide novel and valuable evidence to support the practice of assigning male offenders to alcohol treatment interventions, as they show an indication that alcohol treatment programs could help reduce recidivism.”

“Given the hundreds if not thousands of offenders who might be eligible to attend an alcohol treatment program each year, this could amount to substantial public savings. Beyond financial gains, committing fewer offenses and staying out of prison have strong and continued benefits for the offenders, their families, and the community.”

For this research, the team followed 564 male offenders, with 141 individuals assigned to each one of three alcohol treatment programs: a Low Intensity Alcohol Program (LIAP), an Alcohol Specified Activity Requirement (ASAR), and Addressing Substance-Related Offending (ASRO). A fourth group of 141 was not assigned to a treatment program and served as a control group.

The results of the research showed a large reduction in participants being charged or reconvicted of a crime if they completed any of the three treatment programs. The LIAP appeared to be the most effective in both reducing reconviction rates and cost-effectiveness.

“In the delivery of probation services to offenders, we always try to do things that are evidenced to work,” said Ian Clewlow, deputy chief executive of the Dorset Devon and Cornwall Community Rehabilitation Company.

“We welcome the news from this Plymouth University research that offenders and service users who participate in alcohol programs are less likely to reoffend and be convicted than those that do not, and this is a testament to the hard work of staff to make these programs a success in the community.”

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