Drug Treatment In Prison: Aftercare

By Seth Ferranti 11/27/12

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

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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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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.

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