In recent decades, the number of women under criminal justice supervision has increased considerably, many of whom are serving time for drug offenses. Furthermore, women in prison are more likely than their non-institutionalized counterparts to suffer from a substance abuse disorder. While there is a growing body of research concerning women offenders’ drug abuse and treatment needs, few studies have examined the substance abuse treatment outcomes of women in the criminal justice system. Using data from Outcome Evaluation of the Forever Free Substance Abuse Treatment Program, this study compared women’s self-reported drug use twelve months after participation in high-intensity (n = 101) and low-intensity (n = 81) prison-based substance abuse treatment programming (N = 182). Women who perceived high levels of emotional social support were less likely to report substance use at 12-month follow-up. Furthermore, perceptions of emotional social support and treatment intensity interacted in their association with relapse, such that the protective effect of social support was strongest for women who participated in high-intensity programming. The results of the analyses highlight the importance of perceived social support for women with substance abuse disorders who are transitioning from prison-based substance abuse treatment programming to the community.

Tia Stevens Andersen
Criminal Justice Studies: A Critical Journal of Crime, Law and Society, Volume 31, Issue 1, 2018