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Criminal Justice

Scientific research since the mid-1970s shows that treatment can help many in the criminal justice system who use drugs change their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors toward drug use; avoid relapse; and successfully remove themselves from a life of substance use and crime. Treatment can be effective, whether voluntary or ordered by the court. Once in a treatment program, even those who are not motivated to change at first can eventually become engaged in a continuing treatment process. More information can be found in the Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations: A Research-Based Guide. In support of those who work with juveniles and adults within the court system, including judges, counselors, social workers, case workers, and others, the NIDA has created materials and identified other helpful resources that can be used in educating offenders about the science related to drug use, misuse, and addiction.

Drugs & the Brain Wallet Card

Drugs & the Brain Wallet Card: This tool is designed for at-risk offenders leaving criminal justice facilities and transitioning back to a less structured environment. To prepare these individuals to return to their home environment, counselors can customize this tool to help them identify triggers that could prompt a drug relapse. It also includes information about resources and helplines. These discreet cards can be kept in a wallet, pocket, purse, or cell phone case for easy access. The wallet cards can be ordered free of charge from the NIDA Research Dissemination Center.

The Science of Drug Use - Discussion Points: This resource is intended to give judges and others who talk with offenders language they can use to explain the risks of drug use, as well as resources that can aid in treatment. The document can be used as a guide when offering the offender the wallet card when he or she is leaving the criminal justice facility.

Easy-to-Read DrugFacts: These resources provide information about common drugs of abuse; the science of addiction; effects of drug use, treatment and recovery; and prevention. They are intended for low-literacy audiences and are formatted for easy printing and distribution.

Other NIDA Resources:

External Resources:

The following materials were developed using NIDA funding or by trusted partners.

  • Downward Spiral, Texas Christian University
    This sole-survivor board game provides substance use treatment counselors with an innovative way to motivate clients and open up discussions about the consequences of addiction on themselves and their families. The game format resembles the well-known MonopolyTM and is available in adult and teen versions.
  • Family Resource Center, Treatment Research Institute
    This directory contains resources from the most notable, national sources. It provides information on the signs of addiction, how to prevent drug or alcohol use, drug intervention resources, and finding addiction treatment or addiction recovery and support.

Related Publications

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Other Resources

Past information on many drugs of abuse is available on our Archives site.

Clinical Trials

Clinical trials are research studies in human volunteers conducted to answer specific health questions. Learn about the NIH-sponsored clinical trials available to you.

Other Clinical Trials information sources:

This page was last updated April 2014

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    Cite this article

    NIDA. (2014, April 27). Criminal Justice. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/criminal-justice

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