The importance of addiction recovery services for people in prison.

Supporting people in prison requires a holistic, multifaceted approach. At Hope 2 Hire, our ultimate goal and programming centers around education, job preparedness and professional connection building. But we recognize that our work is only one piece that contributes to a person’s success in the workforce and in life after prison. Our role in the overall transition process for inmates as they prepare for release mandates that we work alongside partner agencies across the city to build a tightly woven safety net of support services. 

Addiction support services are a critical component of that care net. According to a report by Mary Carmichael in Newsweek, more than 50% of people in prison have a history of substance abuse addiction. Without treatment support during their time in prison, many inmates will return to addiction upon release, which contributes to recidivism rates. 

Why does this matter to Hope 2 Hire?

For Hope 2 Hire, these figures are staggering. On a personal level, we want to help eliminate as many barriers for our students as possible. Drug and alcohol addictions require intervention from trained medical and mental health professionals, which might be hard to secure or afford outside of prison. In prison, opportunities to receive such care are sometimes limited. 

Beyond our hope to help people lead healthier lives mentally, emotionally and physically, we want to help people find and maintain meaningful work. The education and training we provide does not matter if our students are facing addictions that impede their work upon release. With many employers requiring regular drug tests to maintain employment, it is critical not only to our students but also to our partner employers, that students start the addiction recovery process while they are in prison. Without this programming, our job placement efforts will be less effective. 

What’s being done in Shelby County?

Thankfully, our students have access to mental health support and other outreach efforts through our partner organizations! A prerequisite for Hope 2 Hire is participation in HopeWorks’ Personal and Career Development course. Through this program, students learn valuable life and job skills while also working with mental health professionals and caseworkers on some of the barriers that have kept them from success in the past including addiction. These important group and individual therapy sessions can help our students learn more about addiction and gain life-long coping methods to hopefully prevent relapses in the future. 

Our students are also paired with a faith encourager through HopeWorks’ PCD program. This faith encourager serves as a prayer champion and spiritual guide for their partner, walking alongside them throughout their programming. They can also serve as a sounding board for our students, allowing them to openly share their struggles and celebrate their successes. Above all, they act as a Godly role model, demonstrating what is possible for our students upon release when you foster a relationship with the Lord and invest in your recovery. While these faith encouragers do not specifically teach an addiction recovery curriculum with our students, they are there to support them as a listening ear and as a guide on how to make better life choices.


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