Brief Motivational Interview–Based Intervention for Women in Jail With History of Drug Addiction and Sex-Trading

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Women admitted to jail with a substance use disorder who are trading sex for money or drugs represent a population at particularly high risk for severe addiction, mental and physical health comorbidities, and a multiplicity of psychosocial barriers to achieving recovery. Time in jail can be an opportunity to reach this subgroup of incarcerated women with a brief intervention focused on increasing motivation for change and assisting with postrelease planning. However, there is no research on the use of brief interventions for assisting this group of women with postrelease planning. The purpose of the current project was to test the feasibility of offering a brief motivational interviewing–based intervention adapted for use in the jail setting and designed to accommodate a wide variety of participant concerns. Participants were 91 incarcerated women who volunteered to participate in the 2-appointment intervention. Participants demonstrated a high prevalence of severe drug addiction (73%), major depression (54%), and posttraumatic stress disorder (66%) based on screening measures. Participants also endorsed the need for help with a number of other top-ranked concerns involving housing, employment, custody of children, and education. Participants showed a significant decrease in average number of arrests in the 12-month period after receiving the intervention compared to the 12-month period prior. These findings suggest that a brief motivational interviewing–based intervention may be feasible for assisting women who are in jail with postrelease planning related to their psychosocial and mental health needs. Additional research will be required to determine if the intervention improves on outcomes compared to usual jail procedures.



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