Spirituality and Desistance from Substance Use among Reentering Offenders




Nicholas W. Bakken, Whitney DeCamp, Christy A. Visher

International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology

November 2014







Prior research has indicated an inverse relationship between religion and criminal behavior; however, few studies have specifically examined the effect of spirituality on the desistance process among a contemporary and diverse sample of reentering drug-involved offenders. A comprehensive understanding of how spirituality is related to desistance from substance use can lead to more effective and evidence-based preventive and rehabilitative interventions. Using data from a longitudinal study of 920 diverse offenders returning to the community after a period of incarceration, the current study examines three distinct forms of substance use (alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine) to gauge the effect that spirituality plays in the desistance process. The findings suggest a relatively high importance of spirituality in terms of preventing substance use during reentry, particularly concerning the use of both alcohol and cocaine.








Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee