Tidal Wave of Opioids Landing More Women in Jail

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Tidal Wave of Opioids Landing More Women in Jail

Women are being incarcerated in record numbers across America today.  In fact, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the number of women in jail for drugs rose from 13,258 in 1980 to 102,300 in 2016.  Since 1980, the number of arrests for drug possession or use tripled for women while it doubled for men.  It most cases, opioids was the substance involved. Society holds women to different standards than men, and this stigma makes life more difficult for a female when she returns to claim her place in the family and community.

Unfortunately, many of these women receive no counseling and are eventually released back into the environment that fueled their drug use.  A significant number of the women relapse and end up back in jail or prison.

When we think about these women, do we wonder what effect this is having on their children or other family members?  What role do society and stigma play in their inability to maintain sobriety? To answer those questions, let’s take a look at some of the difficulties a women faces when she returns home from jail.

How Stigma Affects Women in Jail for Drugs

Stigma is defined as being “unfavorable attitudes and beliefs directed toward a person or group of people.“ In our drug-riddled society today, it’s not hard to find people who judge drug abusers negatively.  These attitudes or opinions are unusually harsh when it comes to women drug abusers who have young children.

Challenges Some Women Face After Jail Time

When a female is released from jail or prison after serving time for drug abuse or possession, she faces a barrage of challenges.

For instance, women in jail for drugs, and after leaving jail, may face things like:

  • Can be denied housing or employment because of her criminal background.
    • Forced to live in unhealthy or unsafe housing.
    • Shelters are often drug-infested and expose her to lice, crabs, scabies, hepatitis, and TB.
    • About 65% of employers surveyed admitted they would not knowingly hire someone who had been incarcerated for drug offenses.
    • Inability to find safe housing can lead a person back to drug use and back to jail.
  • Limited in her ability to obtain health care or drug treatment.
    • Women are often shuffled around from one clinic to another without getting the in-depth counseling and treatment they desperately need.
    • Some women are put on a waiting list for counseling or treatment and end up relapsing during the wait.
  • May be denied access to her children.
    • Women want to be reunited with their children, but many don’t have a safe place to bring their child into.
    • Spouses often use the kids as a leveraging tool, threatening to keep them from the woman until she proves her worth.
    • Many women are not ready emotionally to tackle raising children while also struggling to remain drug-free.

It’s important to note that not all women have these negative experiences after being released from jail.  However, it does signify that there is an imbalance in the system that needs rectifying. Even a short stay in jail can have far-reaching and life-altering ramifications. These examples serve to show how stigma keeps the revolving door of drug use, relapse, and incarceration spinning.

Getting Addiction Treatment That Works

The controversy over punishment vs. treatment for drug abuse is hotly debated on both sides. Sometimes jail works, sometimes it doesn’t. The same holds true for treatment programs. However, the stigma surrounding women in jail for drugs and drug abuse is contributing to high rates of recidivism.

A proven solution is effective, professional treatment.  The most effective programs are those that offer long-term, residential or inpatient treatment, followed by an aftercare program.  The rising number of women in jail for drugs has an impact on communities everywhere.  If you would like to know more, please contact us at our toll-free number today.

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