Tag Archives: addition

Inmates with Behavioral Health Disorders

Prisons Failing to Provide Adequate Help to Inmates with Behavioral Health Disorders

Prisons have long been a final destination for drug addicts and people suffering from various types of mental illnesses. Oftentimes they are convicted of selling or using drugs or committing some unlawful act due to their mental state. However, while imprisoned, many of these people are not getting the help they actually need in order to get better.

According to a new study published by the Department of Justice, over 60% of inmates who are in need of help are not receiving any form of treatment. In this case mental health problems include drug abuse. This is despite the fact that there is plenty of information that would indicate that prisons, both state and federal, should have policies in place to help their mental health population.

The study shows that prisoners are five times more likely to have a mental health problem than other U.S. citizens, and most prisoners report that they have had a mental health issue at least once in their lives prior to being convicted.

As part of the study, the researchers wanted to determine how many current prisoners exhibit mental health issues without receiving treatment. They found that many of the inmates polled exhibited major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, all things that can lead to a drug addiction or a higher recidivism rate. What is unknown is how much being in prison escalated their symptoms, although some treatment experts have indicated that incarceration can trigger mental health issues.

“Once you’re in jail, your life is going to be destabilized – you’re going to lose your house, employment, it can have a snowball effect. Again and again we are seeing people who are in crisis and are being put in jail for substance abuse issues or mental health issues and that’s just not the best way to be dealing with those problems. Jails aren’t treatment programs,” explained Wendy Sawyer, an analyst with the Prison Policy Institute.

Of course, the main debate is whether the prison system is intended to help a person or punish the person. If prison policies aim to restore an individual to a working, honest and contributing member of society, then mental health help will need to be provided. There should also be frequent screenings to ensure that prison life is not creating more mental health issues and the focus should be on actual rehabilitation as much as possible.

Hormones May Help Women Overcome Addiction

psychopharmacologyAs researchers discover more information about drugs and their interactions mentally and physically, some powerful data shows that women become addicted to drugs faster than men, but there are more addicts overall who are male. However, the mechanisms that cause this phenomenon can also help women overcome their substance abuse.

Researchers at Davidson College in North Carolina have discovered that hormones likely play a role in this difference between men and women and their susceptibility to misuse drugs. They then wanted to see if these hormones could be used to help reduce subsequent drug use, and their findings were published in the journal Psychopharmacology.

“There are a lot of data to indicate that women transition from that initial use to having a substance-use disorder much more rapidly,” explained Mark Smith, a psychologist at Davidson.

The researchers were able to track drug use in female rats as they went through their menstrual cycles. They found that the hormones, progesterone and estrogen, proved to be factors in significant reduction of drug use. For example, when a rat’s hormone levels were the highest, the amount of heroin that was consumed went down drastically, leading to a direct correlation of reduction of drug use.

This new information points to estrogen and progesterone as possibly being effective supplements for women who are seeking treatment for opiate addiction. However, there are still a lot of questions researchers have to answer before this type of medication becomes available to female addicts. For instance, the researchers are unsure if estrogen, or progesterone or both are responsible for the decrease in the urge to consume opiates. Research trials are being conducted to find out the answer to these questions, and similar studies must be done with humans to better determine the real-life application of this information.