Attitudes toward Substance Use Disorder among Incarcerated Individuals: A Thematic Analysis



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Substance use disorder (SUD) remains an epidemic especially among the prison population. Evidence has established that attitudes toward SUD remain influential in the success or otherwise of treating SUD both in the official apparatus of the criminal justice system and in community settings. Negative attitudes toward SUD may adversely affect individuals’ willingness to seek and remain in treatment programs. However, limited research examines attitudes of incarcerated individuals involved in substance use within U.S prisons. This is concerning given that the prison population features a disproportionate number of individuals with SUD as compared with the general population. To fill this knowledge gap, this thesis used interview data collected from individuals incarcerated in maximum security prisons in New York (n=87) and one jail in Texas (n=24). In all, 200 participants (N=111) were included in the study. Analysis of interview data using a thematic approach revealed that attitudes toward SUD among incarcerated individuals are categorized into three major themes namely: avoidance, empathy, and acceptance. Findings from the study implicate the need for greater awareness and sensitization about SUD in carceral spaces, expansion of treatment programs and services of SUD treatment, systematic sorting of carceral residents and creation of peer support group among incarcerated persons.



Sociology, Criminology and Penology