Prison Ministries Helping Incarcerated Addicts
Substance abuse and addiction are major problems in America’s prison system. Drug offenses are common reasons for arrest and incarceration, which means that many inmates are drug users and addicts. In fact, statistics show that at least 65 percent of prisoners in the U.S. are struggling with substance abuse or addiction. This represents one and a half million people. In addition to this number, another 500,000 have a history of substance abuse.
Unfortunately, most of these prisoners are not getting the treatment they need. Estimates show that up to one-half of incarcerated addicts get some kind of help in prison, but that it is largely peer counseling rather than professional or dedicated care. A number of Christian ministry groups are trying to change this statistic and are going to prisons to do what they can to help heal those who are ready to quit and to live a new life.
Providing Effective Addiction Treatment
The issue for incarcerated addicts is access to professional, effective treatment for addiction. It is a difficult disease to beat, and while many prisons have self-help programs or support group meetings, these typically aren’t enough to help someone make lifelong changes. Church ministries in many instances can offer little more than extra support, but some are now seeing the benefit of bringing more thoughtful treatment to prison populations.
For example, New Life Behavior Ministries, a nonprofit charity, seeks to bring both God and real treatment to incarcerated drug addicts. Recognizing that ministering to patients and helping them find God is not always enough for real addiction recovery, the group created a curriculum that can be used in many different settings and that is constantly updated to reflect the latest information. Much of the curriculum focuses on ministry and God, but it also includes a full course on substance abuse and addiction. Trained volunteers are put into action to bring the course to prisoners.
Harnessing the Power of Faith in Addiction Recovery
Another prison ministry, called Most Excellent Way Ministry, serves addicted inmates in a number of prisons and is based in Panama City, Fla. The ministry focuses on God first, but also helps addicts find the strength to be sober and to prepare to live fulfilling and meaningful lives outside of prison. The minister hosts weekly sessions in prisons, provides sermons and uses the Bible in a support group setting to guide the recovering addicts
The program is largely voluntary, but some prisoners have been ordered by a court to attend. The reputation of the 12-year-long program is overwhelmingly positive and no prisoner attends without wanting to be there. Countless graduates of the ministry claim that it has helped them get clean. Some relapse, but they always come back to the ministry and say that it has ultimately kept them sober for the long haul.
Addiction in prison is a huge problem. Christian groups have found a niche where they can minister to inmates while also helping counsel them on addiction and substance abuse. Based on volunteers, these groups have the ability to make a big difference in the lives of addicted inmates.
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