NH Department of Corrections launches Focus Unit to deal with inmate addiction

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Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin.
Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin.

CONCORD – The New Hampshire Department of Corrections announces that an intensive, structured treatment unit was established in the Northern New Hampshire Correctional Facility in Berlin to provide treatment and support for inmates with diagnosed addictions, as well as co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.

The Focus Unit integrates evidence-based practices to increase access to and retention in treatment, decrease the use of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, and increase positive family relationships. It is also designed to encourage social skills and decrease criminal involvement.

Multiple points of the Focus curriculum are on building motivational strategies, alcohol/drug refusal skills, relationship repair, communication skills, anger management, problem solving, long-term abstinence and recovery skills.

Corrections Commissioner William L. Wrenn said, “The Focus Unit will help offenders improve thinking and behavior skills while encouraging their ability to understand the connection between thinking, behavior, and consequences.”

The program includes a motivational phase, transitional phase, clinical phase and a co-occurring disorders phase as applicable. It will be a multi-session curriculum that will help inmates restructure their thoughts, learn new coping skills, participate in replacement activities and form new support networks.

It is structured to give inmates additional responsibilities that pertain to their treatment but also require them to adhere to the security rules of the institution.

Commissioner Wrenn said, “This has the potential to help inmates better understand and manage their disorders while preparing them for a successful re-entry into the community.”

The Focus Unit is being established using existing staff resources and working within a structured schedule that integrates security and treatment into a daily schedule. The Medical and Forensics Services Division will monitor its progress and outcomes with the future goal to expand it to other Department facilities.

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Journalist and editor of ManchesterInkLink.com, a hyperlocal news and information site for Manchester, NH.