The Society for Social Work and Research

2014 Annual Conference

January 15-19, 2014 I Grand Hyatt San Antonio I San Antonio, TX

Residential Methamphetamine Treatment Programs for Male and Female Offenders

Saturday, January 18, 2014
HBG Convention Center, Bridge Hall Street Level (San Antonio, TX)
* noted as presenting author
Timothy Conley, PhD, Associate Professor of Social Work, University of Montana, Missoula, Florence, MT

This poster describes, analyzes and presents 6 years of information from Department of Corrections contracted nine month residential programs (American Society for Addiction Medicine level III.5) for the treatment of methamphetamine and other drug offenders in a rural western state.  Both the male and female facilities participated.  The poster thoroughly describes the population and identifies specific risk factors associated with program and subsequent six month prerelease center completion/non-completion. The primary program evaluation goal was to establish efficient data collection and reporting methods that could be implemented over an extended period of time, enabling the ongoing reporting of data useful for verifying and improving program effectiveness.  Recommendations for further study and improving outcomes are suggested.


The study included 564 male and 303 female offenders and utilized  secondary analysis of program file data.  The primary strategy had staff collect existing data from offender records and files and forward it to the researcher.  The data ultimately consisted of both spread sheets and paper summaries and was entered into Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS).  Analysis included simple frequencies and descriptive statistics on this highly unique population; predictive models used regression to associate potential predictor variables with the outcomes of program completion both at the treatment programs and subsequent prerelease centers.


Initially the programs were designed to treat a methamphetamine effected population;  over six years of operation methamphetamine as first drug of choice has decreased while opioids have risen steadily and alcohol and marijuana use has remained significantly unchanged.  Co-occurring mental health disorders are prevalent: Females (86%) of and males (48%). Overall (86.1%) of  females and (79.5%) of males completed their 9 month treatment; of those progressing to prerelease (72.7%) of females and (72.1%) of males complete their 6 month stay. For both male and female programs younger offenders, those with a mental health disorder, those with fewer felony offenses and those with more previous prison time are less likely to complete.  Drug of choice was not associated with either program or prerelease center completion.  

Implications for practice or policy

The programs face ongoing challenges in providing a successful and complete treatment experience for offenders with mental health issues, especially if they are younger and/or on medication.  Co-occurring psychiatric illness and medication issues should be more specifically targeted by treatment programming to eliminate the persistent disparity in completion rates.   In many cases, mental illness may be under-reported and under-diagnosed prior to treatment referral and only manifests itself more obviously in the residential treatment environment where it compromises the offender’s ability to comply with program participation.  Six years of quantitative study has proven informative; further exploring completion rates and return rates by accessing the subjective knowledge base of the clinical directors and frontline practitioners of the treatment programs themselves is now advised.  Qualitative narrative interviewing and analysis of program staff as well as representative groups of offenders will likely prove most informative program evaluation strategy going forward.