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Alcohol and Crime: Treatment and Rehabilitation


In conclusion, the relationships between alcohol problems, crime, and treatment may be said to offer conceptual excitement and empirical disappointment. The linkages between the three concepts tell us a great deal about the social and cultural attitudes toward alcohol problems that in turn explain the ways in which treatment is utilized and implemented. Deviant behavior, which is clearly on a continuum with criminal behavior, is an essential component of the definition of alcohol problems, and thus for access to treatment. Within the treatment and recovery process, the client's dealing with the facts of his or her deviance plays a central role.

By contrast, we find that treatment is made available to criminals with alcohol problems on a piecemeal basis at best. While there is evidence that some criminals with alcohol problems respond positively to treatment, there is a poor cultural "fit" between the widespread use of treatment and the administration of several major sectors of the criminal justice system.

Hence the empirical disappointment: While from some perspectives there is a very distinctive need for more treatment for criminals with alcohol problems, their deviance has carried them beyond the point where society regards treatment as a sound investment, or even as an appropriate investment. This is in sharp contrast to the salience of deviance in deciding and directing the administration of treatment to persons with alcohol problems whose behavior "falls short" of the criterion of criminality.

The amount of treatment available to the criminal population is minuscule relative to the apparent need. There is no clear way in which alcohol problem treatment could move up the list of priorities in the administration of criminal justice. Thus there is little reason to expect that the availability of alcohol problem treatment for the criminal population will increase at any time in the foreseeable future.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawAlcohol and Crime: Treatment and Rehabilitation - Norm Violation, Social Visibility And Formalized Reactions, Alcohol Problems As Double Deviance, The Prominence Of Deviance In Treatment Paradigms