Publication Date

Fall 2018

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Timothy Thornberry and Dr. Adam Lockwood, Sally Kuhlenschmidt (Advisor)

Degree Program

Department of Psychology

Degree Type

Master of Arts in Psychology, Clinical Concentration


A significant relationship between criminal behavior and substance abuse exists, which leads to a large proportion of individuals in the prison system who meet criteria for a substance use disorder. This review compares empirically-supported treatments for substance use disorder to current substance abuse treatment programs offered in United States prisons. A review of current literature indicates that Therapeutic Communities are the most common form of substance abuse treatment provided, and often these are combined with Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy groups. Special treatment considerations are provided based on the type of substance used, gender, and ethnicity. Empirically-supported treatments are currently being implemented by the United States prison system; however, shifts in treatment that combine treatment models and specific individual consideration could potentially result in better treatment outcomes. Future research considerations include further examination of treatment providers, financial factors, co-occurring mental health disorders, and the long-term effect of contingency management treatments utilizing positive reinforcement.


Clinical Psychology | Mental and Social Health | Psychology | Substance Abuse and Addiction