Should You Bail An Addict Out Of Jail?

Should You Bail An Addict Out Of Jail?

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The Difficult Choice to Bail An Addict Out of Jail or Not

Whether it’s from driving under the influence, stealing drugs, or another crime, many substance users find themselves in jail at some point on their journey. This leaves their friends, guardians, and family members with the difficult choice of bailing them out. Because there is no black and white answer, whether or not you should bail an addict out of jail is a highly nuanced decision to make.

The Strong Correlation Between Substance Addiction and Crime

In today’s society, there continues to be a strong link between addiction and crime. This is because many of the people who commit illegal acts, especially in drug-related offenses such as drug possession or selling, are simultaneously struggling with a substance use disorder.

More specifically, research has concluded that around 65% of the United States prison population is currently struggling with substance use disorder. Another 20% of the population is reportedly under the influence while committing their crime.1

Reasons to Not Bail An Addict Out of Jail Immediately

When a loved one struggling with addiction gets imprisoned, it can be tempting to bail them out immediately. While leaving a substance user in prison can feel like a betrayal of their trust, sometimes deciding to bail out an addict out of jail can do more harm than good. A couple of benefits of leaving someone in jail with a substance addiction include:

#1: Forced Withdrawal From Drugs

The first step to living a life of sobriety is removing all traces of the substance from your system through the initial detoxification process. Right off the bat, jail time is the forced push an individual with substance use disorder needs to spend time away from drugs or alcohol and go through the withdrawal period.

#2: Separation From Harmful Influences

Whether it’s spending time around a circle of friends that also abuse substances or living in a stressful or abusive home, both peers and environmental influences can easily fuel a drug or alcohol addiction. Spending time in jail gives individuals a much-needed break from these harmful influences and might be the time they need to come to terms with their addiction.

Is There A Better Alternative To Spending Time In Jail?

While there are short-term benefits of an addicted person spending time in jail, it does not serve as a successful long-term solution. Two of the downfalls of spending time in jail with a substance addiction include:

#1: Heightened Risk For Overdose After Release

Believe it or not, within the first two weeks after an individual is released from prison, they are at 12.7 times higher risk for drug overdose than the general population.2 This can be attributed to individuals returning to a drug after their tolerance for the substance decreases after spending ample time away from it in jail.

#2: Insufficient Addiction Treatment

Solely spending time away from substances doesn’t get users to the root cause of what is contributing to the addiction and how to treat it effectively. This is because most jails and prison staff don’t have the training or resources to provide addiction rehabilitation services. Only 11% of inmates with substance abuse and addiction receive proper treatment for their addictions behind bars.3

The Bottom Line: Professional Addiction Treatment Is The Key To Sobriety

Since there are benefits and drawbacks to consider for bailing an addict of jail, it is a tough decision to make. Whether you bail a person out or let them stay in jail, it is crucial to seek professional care once they get out of prison. 

This is because, with the help of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, support groups, and the 12 step program implemented at drug treatment centers, struggling addicts are much less likely to slip into old drug use habits. Even more importantly, it helps them avoid life-threatening overdoses after detoxing in jail.

Post-Jail Addiction Treatment At Ocean Hills Recovery

Ocean Hills Recovery offers comprehensive addiction treatment services to the Southern California community. If you or a loved one has just been released from jail and is still struggling with addiction, contact our team to start on the path towards sobriety today.


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