Many people who end up in jail are those suffering from addiction. They aren’t necessarily hardened criminals, serial killers, or child molesters. In other words, they aren’t the terrible people we think of when we envision inmates in prison. Many inmates in prison are simply those who cannot stay and get clean for long periods of time. They continue to get DUI’s, or are arrested for public drunkenness. Some have accidently killed people in drug-related car crashes or confrontations. Many of these individuals feel hopeless and have lost everything.
A pilot program in Orange County hosted by the Foundations of Hope Inmate Recovery Program hopes to address this problem. It launched this last Tuesday at the Hillsborough County Jail. The program was started by a former inmate who suffered from addiction many years ago, and who wanted to make a difference for those who are currently suffering the same affliction he did years ago.
This former inmate, Troy Mans, got clean 17 years ago when he got treated at the Freedom House in Chapel Hill. Now he’s partnering with the Orange County sheriff’s office to help inmates who are in the throws of addiction. These are addictions that cause inmates to go in and out of jail without ever really receiving the proper necessary treatment.
After several years of trying to get clean by himself, and suffering from failure after failure, something clicked for him while going through treatment at the Freedom House. He explains, “I just thought I had a moral issue. I felt like this was something I was able to kick. That was a struggle in itself, feeling like a man, you should be able to handle this.”
Manns is now a substance abuse counselor, and he will meet twice a week with groups of male inmates who suffer from substance abuse disorders. He focuses on keeping the groups small to make everyone feel comfortable sharing their experience and to encourage bonding within the group so those who are reluctant to share are more prone to open up.
The inmate selection for the pilot program depends on a variety of factors. The criminal case specialist, Allison Zirkel, will work with the jail staff to consider who is eligible for the program. Some of the factors for consideration will include “charges, expected release dates, housing restrictions, and anything, such as work release, that could keep them from attending meetings.” Attending 12 step meetings is a huge part of this pilot program and inmates are expected to comply to encourage that sobriety and reentry into society is possible.
The program will include problem-solving workshops, mindfulness instruction, and self- motivational advocacy. Many of the addicts chosen for the pilot program suffer from both addiction and mental health issues, which tend to go hand in hand.
Inmates will learn about envisioning a life without drugs and alcohol, and how they can use specific skills to achieve this type of lifestyle. Action plans will be mapped out for each individual depending on their circumstances and personal mental health concerns. Sherriff Charles Black explains, “ By identifying these problems and dealing with them appropriately, we hope to provide these people with the best opportunity to live a life free of mind-altering substances and all the issues brought on the by their use.”
Manns is an example of someone who worked a program of rigorous recovery and is now bringing his experience, strength, and hope to those who suffer from similar afflictions. The team at Footprints Behavioral Health encourages Step 12 work, which encourages individuals to carry out the message to other alcoholics after experiencing a spiritual recovery as a result of the previous 11 steps.
Hopefully, pilot programs will continue like this in jails across the country, not just in Orange County. If inmates can get out of the vicious circle of addiction and incarceration, jails will be less inundated with low-level criminals, and addicts will be able to live the lives they were always meant to live.
Do you suffer from an addiction to alcohol and drugs? Have you been incarcerated due to your addiction? Don’t live this lifestyle any longer. Contact Linda Rose today and get started at Footprints Behavioral Health. Call 949-558-4723 and get going on your roadmap towards recovery and sobriety!