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Inside the prison where drug addicts are being weaned off heroin and ice

John has been addicted to heroin for most of his 35 years and has been in and out of custody all of that time.

His drug-related offending seemed like it would never end and his behaviour has not been much better inside. 

Now an intensive treatment program being used at two Sydney jails has got John off drugs, stopped him being a menace in custody and, according to John, turned his life around. 

The Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program (IDATP) at the John Morony Correctional Complex in Sydney’s north west is available to male and female inmates whose drug taking is linked to their other crimes.

The six to eight month program includes therapy sessions, health care and preparation for release aimed at addressing drug dependence and subsequent offending.

John has been addicted to heroin for most of his 35 years and has been in and out of custody all that time. His drug-related offending has put him in prison repeatedly and his behaviour has not been much better inside. Now an intensive treatment program used at two Sydney jails has got John off drugs, stopped him causing trouble in custody and turned his life around

The Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program at the John Morony Correctional Complex in Sydney's north west is available to male and female inmates whose drug taking is linked to their offending. The six to eight month program includes therapy sessions, health care and preparation for release aimed at addressing drug dependence and offending behaviour

The Intensive Drug and Alcohol Treatment Program at the John Morony Correctional Complex in Sydney’s north west is available to male and female inmates whose drug taking is linked to their offending. The six to eight month program includes therapy sessions, health care and preparation for release aimed at addressing drug dependence and offending behaviour

'Another big part of it is frequent and random urine analysis,' program manger Karen Barbara says. 'The research around urine analysis is that it's really a quiet crucial component.' That means inmates on the program can be randomly tested up to three times a week, far more frequently than in other prisons. A prison officer is pictured outside where inmates are tested

‘Another big part of it is frequent and random urine analysis,’ program manger Karen Barbara says. ‘The research around urine analysis is that it’s really a quiet crucial component.’ That means inmates on the program can be randomly tested up to three times a week, far more frequently than in other prisons. A prison officer is pictured outside where inmates are tested

All participants must work or undertake education courses and the inmates are subject to more frequent random drug tests. 

A new study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research has found the prison infractions of male inmates who had completed the program were reduced by 73 per cent. 

The 12-month study looked at male IDATP offenders since 2012 and compared the rate of their prison misconduct before participating in the program with the rate committed after. 

John has regularly been in prison and juvenile institutions since he was 15.  ‘In and out for the last 20 years, from juvie to jail,’ he said. ‘I have never been able to say no to drugs, especially heroin.’

This time around John has served four years and expects to be released in 10 weeks, when he will hit the streets drug-free for the first time since he was a teenager.

A study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the prison infractions of male inmates who had participated in the intensive drug and alcohol treatment program were reduced by 73 per cent. The 12-month study looked at male IDATP offenders since 2012 and compared the rate of their prison misconduct before participating in the program with the rate after

A study by the Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research found the prison infractions of male inmates who had participated in the intensive drug and alcohol treatment program were reduced by 73 per cent. The 12-month study looked at male IDATP offenders since 2012 and compared the rate of their prison misconduct before participating in the program with the rate after

Structured activities such as touch football and meditation are also used and all inmates must be working or undertaking education courses. Inmates who adhere to the program and stay free of drugs are rewarded with treats they can't normally get in jail at the end of the week. Sometimes it is chicken schnitzel, a mango or meat pie. On Friday it was Vietnamese rolls

Structured activities such as touch football and meditation are also used and all inmates must be working or undertaking education courses. Inmates who adhere to the program and stay free of drugs are rewarded with treats they can’t normally get in jail at the end of the week. Sometimes it is chicken schnitzel, a mango or meat pie. On Friday it was Vietnamese rolls

He credits IDATP for his success.

‘For me, for the last 20 years it has just been repeating. I get out and I get back on it. It’s been that cycle for 20 years.

‘This program’s helped me break that cycle. After doing the program I know it’s going to be different this time.’

Program manager Karen Barbara said IDATP was focused on group work and cognitive behaviour therapy. 

Structured activities such as touch football, meditation and mindfulness sessions are also part of the program.

‘We seek to ensure that they’re really engaged,’ Ms Barbara said. 

Preparing for reintegration into the community was also vitally important.  

‘The research will always tell us that having that after-care is really important to prevent relapses and re-offending,’ Ms Barbara said.  

The two facilities at the John Morony complex taking part in the program are Dillwynia Correctional Centre for women and the men's Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre (pictured). There are about 60 inmates currently engaged in the program. IDATP does not take inmates serving sentences for large supply of drugs or sex offences against children

The two facilities at the John Morony complex taking part in the program are Dillwynia Correctional Centre for women and the men’s Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre (pictured). There are about 60 inmates currently engaged in the program. IDATP does not take inmates serving sentences for large supply of drugs or sex offences against children

NSW Minister for Corrections Anthony Roberts said: 'We want to build safer and stronger communities, and to do that we need to ensure inmates are getting the assistance they need to address their offending behaviour, reintegrate into society and stay out of prison.' Pictured is a typical 'one-out' cell at the Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre

NSW Minister for Corrections Anthony Roberts said: ‘We want to build safer and stronger communities, and to do that we need to ensure inmates are getting the assistance they need to address their offending behaviour, reintegrate into society and stay out of prison.’ Pictured is a typical ‘one-out’ cell at the Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre

The two facilities at the John Morony complex taking part in the program are Dillwynia Correctional Centre for women and the men’s Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre. 

There are 60 inmates currently engaged in the therapy. IDATP does not take inmates serving sentences for large supply of drugs or sex offences against children.

The men’s jail is being converted from minimum security to medium which will allow a greater pool to take part in the courses.

Some participants will approach prison authorities seeking help, others will be referred by case plan managers. 

Inmates in each group make up some of their own rules. ‘We’ve got to give them a sense of ownership,’ Ms Barbara said.

On a whiteboard are one group’s own rules including: ‘What is said in group stays in group’, ‘Don’t talk over each other’ and ‘No unacceptable language’.

The group also stipulates its members don’t wear caps or sunglasses in therapy sessions, that they ‘be kind to each other’ and always be punctual.   

‘If anyone does go away from the rules the facilitator will bring them back at the end of the session and remind them these are the rules they made up together,’ Ms Barbara said.

Inmates in each group make up some of their own rules. 'We've got to give them a sense of ownership,' program manager Karen Barbara said. On a whiteboard are one group's own rules including: 'What is said in group stays in group', 'Don't talk over each other' and 'No unacceptable language'. This group also banned hats and sunglasses while in therapy sessions

Inmates in each group make up some of their own rules. ‘We’ve got to give them a sense of ownership,’ program manager Karen Barbara said. On a whiteboard are one group’s own rules including: ‘What is said in group stays in group’, ‘Don’t talk over each other’ and ‘No unacceptable language’. This group also banned hats and sunglasses while in therapy sessions

Program manager Karen Barbara (left) says IDATP was focused on group work where inmates underwent cognitive behaviour therapy. Psychologist Samara Campion (right) says the program only worked because the inmates had the benefit of dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced staff. 'Sometimes it's the first time anyone's actually cared about them'

Program manager Karen Barbara (left) says IDATP was focused on group work where inmates underwent cognitive behaviour therapy. Psychologist Samara Campion (right) says the program only worked because the inmates had the benefit of dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced staff. ‘Sometimes it’s the first time anyone’s actually cared about them’

Every two to three weeks a new group will be inducted. In a typical group 12 may start but only eight will finish,’ Ms Barbara said. 

‘Addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition and some people won’t be able to make it through the program.’ 

Some in the program will remove themselves and some will be removed by staff. 

‘Another big part of it is frequent and random urine analysis,’ Ms Barbara said. ‘The research around urine analysis is that it’s really a quiet crucial component.’

That means inmates on the program can be randomly tested up to three times a week, far more frequently than in other prisons. 

‘We attempt to make sure that we see progress,’ Ms Barbara said. ‘They can’t graduate the program until they’ve demonstrated eight weeks of abstinence.’ 

The most common drugs being used by inmates are buprenorphine, commonly produced as a patch to treat opioid addiction and known as ‘bupe’, and crystal methamphetamine, or ice.

An inmate in the intensive drug and alcohol treatment program at the Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre in north-west Sydney uses art as part of his therapy. Program organisers hope to introduce an art competition for inmates

An inmate in the intensive drug and alcohol treatment program at the Outer Metropolitan Multi-Purpose Correctional Centre in north-west Sydney uses art as part of his therapy. Program organisers hope to introduce an art competition for inmates

Inmates list issues which may cause them distress or had caused distress in the past on a white board. 'Shoelaces got stolen', 'S*** phone call', 'Disagreement with screw', 'Fighting in wing', 'Fight outside', 'Fighting with partner', 'being late for funeral'

Inmates list issues which may cause them distress or had caused distress in the past on a white board. ‘Shoelaces got stolen’, ‘S*** phone call’, ‘Disagreement with screw’, ‘Fighting in wing’, ‘Fight outside’, ‘Fighting with partner’, ‘being late for funeral’

‘It’s kind of taken over where heroin once was,’ Ms Barbara said of ice, which like bupe is easy to smuggle inside.

For John, prison could never stop him taking drugs, until now. 

‘I’ve always been on drugs when I’ve been in jail,’ he said. ‘Getting drugs in jail is just one step away. One door away. I could never say no.’ 

Psychologist Samara Campion is the program’s acting therapeutic manager and said IDATP only worked because the inmates had the benefit of dedicated, knowledgeable and experienced staff.

‘Sometimes it’s the first time anyone’s actually cared about them and their recovery.’ 

Inmates who adhere to the program and stay free of drugs are rewarded with treats they can’t normally get in jail at the end of the week. Sometimes it is chicken schnitzel, a mango or meat pie. On Friday it was Vietnamese rolls.

Those who complete the program take part in a ceremony attended by family at which they are required to deliver a speech, which Ms Barbara said could be incredibly powerful.

‘We do make a big deal when they graduate,’ she said. ‘It’s a big achievement for them.’ 

Corrective Services NSW Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Martin from offender services and programs, welcomed the BOCSAR findings showing improved inmate behaviour at John Morony. 'Inmates in IDATP undertake cognitive behaviour therapy, group support, education and vocational training, and are assisted to resettle in the community,' Dr Martin says

Corrective Services NSW Assistant Commissioner Anne Marie Martin from offender services and programs, welcomed the BOCSAR findings showing improved inmate behaviour at John Morony. ‘Inmates in IDATP undertake cognitive behaviour therapy, group support, education and vocational training, and are assisted to resettle in the community,’ Dr Martin says

New South Wales Minister for Corrections Anthony Roberts said the government was committed to reducing re-offending and ensuring more inmates participated in programs which addressed their behaviour. 

‘We want to build safer and stronger communities, and to do that we need to ensure inmates are getting the assistance they need to address their offending behaviour, reintegrate into society and stay out of prison,’ Mr Roberts said.

‘Offenders have to want to change their behaviour and we have to give them the right programs to help them reach that point in their lives – IDATP is now proven to work.’ 

John, who is serving a sentence for drug offences and breaking and entering, has just four weeks left before he completes the program.

‘It’s been a big, big benefit,’ he said. ‘The program has done enormously for me. They have helped me out so much with support. 

‘I can say no to heroin, to ice. I’ve got so much confidence. They’ve taught me so much knowledge which I can use – everyday stuff, just dealing with emotions and thoughts, interacting with other people.

‘It’s helped me to be able to see everything differently. I have changed so much to come all the way to where I am now.’

John’s behaviour inside had improved remarkably and he hoped to take that outside. 

For the first time in Tom's life he was now drug free. 'I was surprised myself,' the 29-year-old says. 'I thought I wouldn't last in this program.' Tom says he is also better prepared for release and knew there was support when he got outside. 'Last time I got out and the time before that and the time before that I got out with no pre-release program. I got straight back on heroin'

For the first time in Tom’s life he was now drug free. ‘I was surprised myself,’ the 29-year-old says. ‘I thought I wouldn’t last in this program.’ Tom says he is also better prepared for release and knew there was support when he got outside. ‘Last time I got out and the time before that and the time before that I got out with no pre-release program. I got straight back on heroin’

John, who is serving a sentence for drug offences and breaking and entering, has just four weeks left before he completes the program. 'It's been a big, big benefit,' he says. 'The program has done enormously for me. They have helped me out so much with support. 'I can say no to heroin, to ice. I've got so much confidence. They've taught me so much knowledge'

John, who is serving a sentence for drug offences and breaking and entering, has just four weeks left before he completes the program. ‘It’s been a big, big benefit,’ he says. ‘The program has done enormously for me. They have helped me out so much with support. ‘I can say no to heroin, to ice. I’ve got so much confidence. They’ve taught me so much knowledge’

‘In the past, it hasn’t been the best,’ he said. ‘Fighting, intimidating, drug charges. Really anti-social, getting in trouble with drugs and violent stuff. I’m not getting into any trouble with other inmates now.’ 

When he walks out of prison in September John believes he will be able to go straight. ‘I’m ready,’ he said. ‘I’m prepared.’ 

But he cautioned the program would not work for everyone. ‘It only works for those people who really want to quit.’

Tom has about nine months left to serve a four-year minimum sentence for break and enter. Like John, he had been addicted to heroin since he was about 15. 

The 29-year-old has been on the program for about eight months and admits it has not always been easy.

‘I wasn’t doing too good at the beginning,’ he said. ‘Because I didn’t want to be in the program. I just didn’t want to be here. And then later on I realised there were a few things I need to address.’

Tom was abused as a boy and had suffered post traumatic stress disorder throughout adulthood. 

'I had a pretty s*** childhood,' Tom (pictured) says. 'I didn't know how to fit in. All I knew was drugs. 'I had heaps of problems when I came in. I thought my anxiety was just me hanging out for drugs. It wasn't. 'Before I started the program I was just, like, get out, do the same thing. I didn't know these emotions I was feeling, what to call them. All I knew was to get on the drugs'

‘I had a pretty s*** childhood,’ Tom (pictured) says. ‘I didn’t know how to fit in. All I knew was drugs. ‘I had heaps of problems when I came in. I thought my anxiety was just me hanging out for drugs. It wasn’t. ‘Before I started the program I was just, like, get out, do the same thing. I didn’t know these emotions I was feeling, what to call them. All I knew was to get on the drugs’

‘I had a pretty s*** childhood,’ he said. ‘I didn’t know how to fit in. All I knew was drugs.

‘I had heaps of problems when I came in. I thought my anxiety was just me hanging out for drugs. It wasn’t.

‘Before I started the program I was just, like, get out, do the same thing. 

‘I didn’t know these emotions I was feeling, what to call them. All I knew was to get on the drugs.’ 

For the first time in his life he was now drug free. ‘I was surprised myself,’ he said. ‘I thought I wouldn’t last in this program.’

Tom said he was better prepared for release and knew there was support when he got outside. 

‘Last time I got out and the time before that and the time before that I got out with no pre-release program.

‘I got straight back on heroin.

‘Ask all the boys in their 50s and 60s. They keep coming back, in and out. I don’t want to do the same thing.’

Tom does not want to enter his 30s addicted to drugs and believes he will be able to stay clean. 

‘I’m going to give it a crack anyway.’ 

'Ask all the boys in their 50s and 60s,' Tom says. 'They keep coming back, in and out. I don't want to do the same thing.' He does not want to enter his 30s addicted to drugs and believes he will be able to stay clean. 'I'm going to give it a crack anyway'

‘Ask all the boys in their 50s and 60s,’ Tom says. ‘They keep coming back, in and out. I don’t want to do the same thing.’ He does not want to enter his 30s addicted to drugs and believes he will be able to stay clean. ‘I’m going to give it a crack anyway’

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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