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Drug Treatment In Prison: Aftercare

Some prisoners who graduate from drug treatment programs worry that they're not being prepared for life on the outside, they tell The Fix.


What does the future hold for prisoners after
drug treatment? Photo via

By Seth Ferranti


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Participants who successfully graduate from the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), having completed Phase III of the institution-based component, are sometimes released to a residential reentry center or halfway house. If they stay in prison, they continue to participate in assigned MTC (modified therapeutic community) activities—such as community meetings and service groups—and engage in follow-up treatment as directed. "Once a month, psychology staff puts you on the callout and gets everyone that is RDAP-complete but that hasn't left [prison] yet together for a meeting," one RDAP graduate tells The Fix. "We turn in our Aftercare books for review and have a group discussion on a treatment-related topic. Sometimes we watch a video or movie; recently we watched videos on gambling and the history of narcotics. Then we discuss the video and how those things apply to our treatment. We talk about the things we are doing to maintain our recovery."

Ideally, RDAP graduates should act as mentors and leaders on the MTC unit. But that doesn't always happen, as they tend to get burnt out on the program. Our RDAP graduate isn't so sure about the value of the Aftercare component of the program. "I've been over there to psychology four times for aftercare since I graduated, and each time we spent one to two hours as a group in some sort of treatment-related activity," he tells us. "I would like more treatment to help with my recovery and eventual transition to the world, but what they offer is a lot simpler than you would think. The RDAP follow-up book is divided up into months. When we get together we are supposed to have the pages done, about four pages a month. The Aftercare specialist checks them... but mostly, it's just a glance. Most of it is refreshing your memory on stuff you learned in the program like attitude checks, RSAs [rational self analysis], thinking errors, spoke checks and maintaining a safety net. It's good stuff... but some of us need more treatment before we go home so that we don't relapse and come back to prison."

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