Samantha McCutchan ’19 (Granville, Ohio) participated in a community-based learning experience this summer through an internship with the Substance Abuse Program (SAP) at the Boyle County Detention Center.
“I am working alongside the two substance abuse counselors, helping with their intakes, psychosocial evaluations, psychoeducational classes and following the SAP schedule alongside the inmates, attending the classes, 12-step programs, alcoholics anonymous meetings, group therapy and accountability sessions,” McCutchan said.
She was introduced to this topic during her research methods class, where McCutchan studied the barriers to addiction recovery in Boyle County.
“I was blown away by how relevant the topic was, specifically to Danville,” she said. “We really are in a bubble on campus, so having the opportunity to do a community-based learning project very was eye-opening.
“I loved meeting survivors of addiction and hearing their stories,” she continued. “The criminalization of addiction is a really interesting concept, because incarceration is both a tool and a barrier of recovery. It forces people to get clean and SAP prepares people to stay clean upon release.”
McCutchan continued to explain how having a criminal record makes it more challenging for the individual to re-enter society and find a stable job. Due to the instability, there’s a greater risk for relapse.
“I wanted to learn more about the jail’s role in addiction recovery and hear the opinions from those who are currently going through SAP.”
McCutchan said this internship has been a humbling experience for her.
“While everyone I am working with is in a sensitive place, they have welcomed me with open arms and have been sharing personal stories with me. I am thankful that everyone is comfortable enough around me to discuss the barriers of addiction openly with me, telling me their struggles.
“This experience has helped me to have a better understanding of the factors that lead to addiction,” she continued. “It forces you to think about incarceration in terms of social location—everyone is here for a reason—they committed a minor crime and have a substance addiction. While they may have chosen to use a substance and commit that crime, their lives and the existing structures around them that led to substance abuse is not a choice. The crime is a side effect of the addiction.”
McCutchan said she plans to continue researching barriers to addiction recovery in the fall for senior seminar, and is hoping the relationships she’s developed with the staff and inmates means that many of them will be comfortable participating in interviews or further study.
by Kerry Steinhofer
August 17, 2018