Category: Criminal Justice / Forensics

Symposium

"Being Able to Speak": What Jail Inmates Found Helpful About Participating in Alcohol-Related Brief Interventions

Saturday, November 18
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Criminal Justice | Substance Abuse | Treatment Development
Presentation Type: Symposium

Treatments for inmates with substance use disorders (SUD) show minimal to no benefit on post-release outcomes, suggesting a need to improve their effectiveness, particularly those that can be delivered in a format that is conducive to short-term facilities (e.g., jails). The purpose of this study was to describe what jail inmates with SUDs found helpful from two brief alcohol-focused interventions in order to inform the development of future treatments for inmates with SUDs.


Data came from a parent study where 58 jail inmates with SUDs were randomized to receive either a motivational (n=33) or educational (n=25) intervention focused on substance use, and then were asked what was most and least helpful about the interventions. Qualitative responses were coded by two authors using a grounded theory approach. Discrepant codes were discussed with all authors until a consensus was reached.


Most participants were male (n=56, 97%), identified as a racial minority (n=48, 83%), were an average age of 34.1 years (SD=9.5), and reported being abstinent on 31.4% (SD=32.6) of the 90 days prior to incarceration. Overall, participants found it helpful to receive one-on-one, individualized attention (e.g., “The most helpful part was the opening up of my emotions”), and that the interventions were encouraging and elicited hope. Specific components from each intervention were reported to be beneficial: planning for post-release and learning about addiction (e.g., “It helped to go over with someone what I want to do when released”). Participants noted areas for improving future interventions, such as offering tangible resources upon release, making session lengths flexible, and reducing assessment burden during research interviews (e.g., “Remembering all the dates and how many times I used [was least helpful]”). This study provided a voice to jail inmates with SUDs, a diverse group that often is underrepresented in the literature. Results offer an initial look at how to improve existing treatments for this high-risk population, such as cognitive behavioral treatments and other brief interventions that address their substance use.

Mandy D. Owens

Postdoctoral Fellow
VA Puget Sound Health Care System

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