For prisoners with substance abuse histories, release marks the beginning of a difficult readjustment, with high risk of relapse to drug abuse and recidivism to crime. Obtaining and maintaining adequate employment are highly related to the prevention of relapse and recidivism. Substance abusers, however, lack cognitive problem-solving skills needed to get and keep work. Problem Solving Technologies proposes to develop a pre-release vocational skills training program for this population, based on extensive research by the applicant principals demonstrating the important role played by problem-solving skills in adjustment, and prior NIDA-funded research demonstrating with heroin addicts the efficacy of highly structured, manual-driven vocational skills training interventions based on this research. During Phase I, manuals and companion materials focussing on employment and designed to meet the specific needs of prisoners with drug abuse histories will be developed. Needs will be determined through expert opinions of successful parolees, probation/parole officers, and correctional employees gathered through focus groups and a national survey. Protocols and physical arrangements for Phase II Research and Development evaluations will also be established. Potential markets for these skills-training and competency-building programs/manuals include correctional institutions, probation/parole departments, and youth services department, both public and private.
The vocational skills training program developed here has wide applications to newly released prison populations, as well as to those ordered directly to probation. Skills taught in this program are necessary for prevention of drug-use relapse and recidivism, as well as for the maintenance of employment. Markets include correctional settings for adults and youths, and probation/parole departments in both the public and private sectors.