Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph. D.

Department (Legacy)

Department of Educational and Counseling Psychology

Committee Chair

Kirby, Kathleen M.

Author's Keywords

Prisoners; Drug treatment; Rural-urban differences; Health service utilization; Residency; Treatment motivation; Health status; Dropout; Substance abuse treatment


Substance abuse--Treatment


Drugs and crime are inextricably connected. Much of the growth in the prisoner population in America is attributable to the misuse and abuse of drugs and alcohol. Offenders who abuse or are dependent on drugs are at high risk for substantial health problems. Without substance abuse treatment, many offenders are destined to continue recycling through an overburdened criminal justice system, costing taxpayers billions of dollars each year in drug-related healthcare costs and lost productivity. A large body of empirical research demonstrates that treatment helps reduce criminal recidivism and relapse, and is cost-effective. Research also shows that one form of treatment is not appropriate for all types of drug problems or offenders. Appropriate treatment matching that takes into account the severity of an offender's drug problem and their motivation for treatment is necessary to maximize treatment effectiveness, reduce premature dropout, and make the most efficient use of limited fiscal resources. Most of the research cited in the criminal justice literature is based on urban samples; comparatively little is known about rural drug offenders and the relationship of treatment motivation and health status to dropout. This study explored differences in motivation for treatment and mental and physical health status on a group of incarcerated male drug offenders in a residential treatment program in a rural state. Specific attention was given to comparing rural and urban inmates on these factors, and determining whether they were significantly related to dropout from treatment. Results indicate that offenders from rural communities had less desire for help than their urban counterparts, had more physical health problems in the year prior to incarceration, and were nearly four times more likely to drop out of treatment early than inmates from urban areas. Results suggest that residency may be a useful factor to consider in the screening of inmates for substance abuse treatment, and are discussed from a policy perspective vis-à-vis the efficient utilization of limited resources.