Policy Factsheet

In-Community Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Centers

Reasons for Policy

  • There is a high correlation between criminal activity and drug use; more than 50% of those arrested tested positive for use of at least one illegal drug.1

  • Offenders who were part of a therapeutic community drug treatment program showed less drug use and criminal activity compared to those that did not.1

Community Groups

  • Justice System
  • Law Enforcement
  • Local Government
  • Local Health Department

Policy Components

  • 6-12 month in-prison treatment program

  • Community aftercare program after release

  • Include individual and group therapy, 12-step meetings, addiction education, life skills training, and vocational counseling and placement both in-prison and after release

Desired Outcomes

  • Lower rates of recidivism

  • Lower rates of re-arrest

Level of Evidence Available to Evaluate Effectiveness of Policy

For all policies we describe on this website, we have applied the Standards of Evidence as defined by Flay et al. (2005) in the Standards of Evidence document published by Prevention Science.

The effectiveness level of this policy is 3: Insufficient Evidence Available.

The levels of effectiveness as noted are:

  1. meets criteria for policy effectiveness (consistent, positive outcomes from at least two high-quality experimental or quasi-experimental trials using a comparison group or interrupted time series design);
  2. consistent evidence available linking policy with positive outcomes from high-quality observational studies only;
  3. insufficient evidence available for policy or policy components.

Achievable Results

  • The evidence of effectiveness for these programs is mixed and limited by studies with poor scientific merit. More research is needed.


  1. Chanhatasilpa C, MacKenzie DL, Hickman LJ (2000). The effectiveness of community-based programs for chemically dependent offenders: A review and assessment of the research. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 19, 383-393.  

  2. Flay, BR, Biglan, A, Boruch, RF, Ganzalez Castro, F, Gottfredson, D, Kellam, S, Moscicki, EK, Schinke, S, Valentine, JC, & Ji, P (2005). Standards of evidence: Criteria for efficacy, effectiveness and dissemination. Prevention Science, 6(3), 151-175.