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Drug Treatment in Prison: Making Strides

Attendance alone isn't enough, prisoners tell The Fix: you have to participate actively and commit to change.

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Groups are an important part of RDAP.
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By Seth Ferranti

10/09/12

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Prisoners are admitted to the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) in line with their projected release dates. RDAP consists of a minimum of 500 face-to-face contact hours over the course of 10 months, and its unit-based component has three phases: Orientation, Core Treatment and Transition. Participants are exposed to a variety of interventions during each phase, including community meetings, pychoeducational groups, service groups, process groups and individual sessions as warranted. "They got three parts you have to take and complete to get the year off [your sentence]," one prisoner tells The Fix. "Phase one is Orientation; it's 11 weeks, it goes over the eight attitudes of change and confronting and leveling. Phase two, which is broken into two eleven-week sessions, goes over RSAs [rational self-analysis], criminal thinking errors and how to have healthy relationships. Phase three is 11 weeks and it gives you the tools to evaluate the balance of your life."

Each program segment requires active participation and a commitment to change—mere attendance and observation, without active participation, is not sufficient to complete the program. Before a participant can make the transition from one stage to the next, he must demonstrate acceptance of his diagnosis, take responsibility for the entire community, actively and appropriately engage in group activities, make an observable commitment to positive change and demonstrate mastery of phase-related concepts. "I learned how to be more aware of myself and the attitudes I demonstrated in Orientation," the prisoner says. "In phase two I learned that I look for unhealthy relationships because I am codependent, and in phase three I'm learning that every aspect of my life has to be in sequence for me to be balanced."

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