Effectiveness of the Aboriginal Offender Substance Abuse Program (Summary)
Why we did this study
Safe reintegration of Aboriginal offenders to the community through the delivery of effective interventions is one of five CSC priorities. Over 90% of the Aboriginal men in federal custody require substance abuse intervention. In response to this need, CSC introduced the Aboriginal Offender Substance Program (AOSAP), a high intensity program, in 2004. To date, approximately 500 Aboriginal offenders have completed the high intensity program.
What we did
The Addictions Research Centre studied a cohort of 2,685 Aboriginal offenders, who were released to the community on day parole, full parole, or statutory release to evaluate the effects of AOSAP participation on post-release outcomes.
What we found
Of the group of Aboriginal offenders who completed AOSAPFootnote 1, 78% remained in the community on release whereas only 46% of Aboriginal offenders who did not participate in a substance abuse program while incarcerated remained in the community (see Figure 1).
Description of Figure 1.
AOSAP - Successful Participation, NSAP(H) - Successful Participation, NSAP(M) - Successful Particiaption, No Institutional Substance Abuse Program.
Revocation (new offence or an outstanding charge): 5, 16, 20, 20.
Revocation (without an offence): 17, 27, 32, 34.
Did not return to custody: 78, 57, 48, 46.
During the demonstration phase, AOSAP was not available to all Aboriginal men. As a result, some Aboriginal men completed either the National Substance Abuse Program – High Intensity (NSAP-H) or the NSAP – Moderate Intensity (NSAP-M). When compared to the participants who successfully completed AOSAP, the group of Aboriginal offenders who successfully completed NSAP-H and NSAP-M were revoked at a rate that was 1.6 and 1.7 times higher, respectively.
Offenders who were enrolled, but failed to complete a substance abuse program had over two times the rate of revocation than the group of offenders who successfully completed AOSAP.
Of those Aboriginal offenders who completed AOSAP only 5% were returned to custody because of a new offence or charge.
What it means
The results of this research clearly indicate that delivering substance abuse treatment programs to Aboriginal offenders reduces the likelihood of a return to custody. Moreover, there is strong evidence supporting the delivery of culturally-appropriate interventions like AOSAP to Aboriginal offenders. Stronger treatment effects can be expected through interventions that blend traditional Aboriginal healing with contemporary best-practices. Indeed, the results confirmed that Aboriginal offenders were more likely to be successful on release when they participated in culture-specific programs.
For more information
Kunic, D. & Varis, D.D. (2009). The Aboriginal Offender Substance Abuse Program (AOSAP): Examining the effects of successful completion on post-release outcomes.
Research Report R-217. Ottawa: Correctional Service of Canada.
To obtain a PDF version of the full report, contact the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Addictions Research Centre, Research Branch
- Footnote 1
Combined results from versions 2 & 3 of program, of which the latter is the version that was implemented nationally in 2007.
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