Substance Abuse Treatment Options for Parolees After Prison

Woman Researching Substance Abuse Treatment Options for Parolees After Prison On Her Smartphone

Substance Abuse Treatment Options for Parolees After Prison

One of the biggest triggers for someone struggling with substance use disorder is stress.

Those who have been incarcerated and are thrust back into the real-world, undoubtedly, experience a lot of that.

This overwhelming stress and new found freedom can cause former inmates to relapse.

An unfortunate 95% of incarcerated individuals will return to substance use after their release from prison [1]. Add to that the sad fact 60-80% of these individuals will commit new crimes. It seems bleak to hope for recovery after incarceration [1].

Even so, it is absolutely possible to achieve a life free from drugs once a person is free from prison.

Below are some treatment options for those hoping to achieve just that.

Community Mental Health Organizations

Community Mental Health organizations can be incredibly helpful in offering any kind of mental health treatment to those without insurance or who may struggle to pay for services.

Therapist comforting male patientThe purpose of these organizations is to provide mental health support for people in the community in an outpatient capacity as opposed to inpatient.

For those leaving prison, it may be an excellent place to find support and resources.

These sites likely offer substance use counseling, recovery and relapse prevention programs, and information about other places in the community that do the same.

These organizations may be run via donations or government funding and can likely be found via word-of-mouth or simply by searching for mental health resources in your area.

Alcoholics Anonymous & Narcotics Anonymous

Unlike a community mental health organization, AA and NA groups are not run by professional counselors. Instead, it is run by individuals that have struggled with alcohol and substance abuse themselves.

As their website describes, Alcoholics Anonymous is “nonprofessional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical, and available to almost everyone [2].”

Narcotics Anonymous has a similar description, stating: “Membership is free and we have no affiliation with any organization outside of NA including governments, religions, law enforcement groups, or medical and psychiatric associations [3].”

The point is getting and receiving support from a nonjudgmental and safe community of people struggling with and overcoming, the same challenge.

The groups are free and all over the nation, with AA having helped “approximately 2,000,000 problem drinkers” and NA holding approximately 67,000 NA meetings weekly [4].

Sober Living Houses

Maintaining sobriety after incarceration can be a struggle.

With freedom comes temptation as an individual is thrust back into the real world and, possibly, their old, using, environment.

Group sitting in a circle at a sober living homeSober living homes can be a safe haven for those leaving jail that don’t have a “clean” environment to go to when they are freed.

These homes are specifically for those struggling with addiction. Residents often have to follow the house rules and contribute to the home by completing chores.

Above all, individuals in the home must abstain from any drug or alcohol use.

These homes have shown to be effective in providing individuals with a supportive and drug-free environment as they get back on their feet.

Staying sober while dealing with the stresses of starting over after prison is a difficult challenge but not one that is impossible or that anyone has to deal with alone.

Reach out to local resources in your area, go to groups and meetings, and engage in therapy services so that you can gain the tools needed to start your new, clean and sober, life.

Image of Margot Rittenhouse.About the Author: Margot Rittenhouse is a therapist who is passionate about providing mental health support to all in need and has worked with clients with substance abuse issues, eating disorders, domestic violence victims and offenders, and severely mentally ill youth.

As a freelance writer for Eating Disorder and Addiction Hope and a mentor with MentorConnect, Margot is a passionate eating disorder advocate, committed to de-stigmatizing these illnesses while showing support for those struggling through mentoring, writing, and volunteering. Margot has a Master’s of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Johns Hopkins University.


[1] O’Leary, Dane, (2018). Why imprisonment is more harm than help to addicted offenders. Skywood Recovery. Retrieved on 27 May 2018 from

[2] Unknown (2018). What is alcoholics anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved on 27 May 2018 from

[3] Public Relations Dept. (2018). Information about NA. Narcotics Anonymous. Retrieved on 27 May 2018 from

[4] Alcoholics Anonymous (2017). Frequently asked questions about A.A. Alcoholics Anonymous. Retrieved on 27 May 2018 from

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 19, 2018
Reviewed on June 19, 2018 by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

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