Current Psychiatry Reports

, 15:414 | Cite as

Treating Substance Use Disorders in the Criminal Justice System

  • Steven Belenko
  • Matthew Hiller
  • Leah Hamilton
Substance Use and Related Disorders (JR McKay, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Substance Use and Related Disorders


The large number of individuals with substance use disorders involved in the nation’s criminal justice system (CJS) represents a unique opportunity, as well as challenges, in addressing the dual concerns of public safety and public health. Unfortunately, a low proportion of those who could benefit from treatment actually receive it while involved in the CJS. This article presents a review of recent research on the effectiveness of major substance abuse treatment interventions used at different possible linkage points during criminal justice case processing, including diversion, jail, prison, and community supervision. This is followed by a discussion of key research and practice issues, including low rates of treatment access and under-utilization of medication-assisted treatment. Concluding comments discuss principles of effective treatment for offenders and identify key gaps in research and practice that need to be addressed to improve and expand provision of effective treatment for offenders.


Criminal justice Drug treatment Substance abuse Offenders Implementation Psychiatry 



This paper was supported in part by NIDA grant U01DA025284.

Compliance with Ethics Guidelines

Conflict of Interest

Steven Belenko has received research support from NIDA and royalties from Springer.

Matthew Hiller declares that he has no conflict of interest.

Leah Hamilton has received research support from NIDA.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeTemple UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

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