OHIO | Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction becomes first jurisdiction to provide breaking free from substance abuse digital behavioral support program for incarcerated individuals


GTL, a leader in transformative corrections technology that improves outcomes for inmates and facilities, today announced that Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) has become the first jurisdiction in the United States to offer the evidence-based digital behavior change intervention for substance use disorder, “Breaking Free from Substance Abuse,” to its incarcerated population.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 20.3 million American adults have a substance use disorder. This represents less than 10% of the U.S. adult population. However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics paints a grimmer picture for jailed men and women—58% of state prisoners and 63% of jail inmates meet criteria for drug dependence or abuse, but too few receive treatment.

Correctional facilities face several barriers when it comes to meeting the needs of the incarcerated population with substance use disorders —lack of time, resources, infrastructure, and staff. However, the partnership between GTL and Breaking Free Group gives inmates 24/7 access to evidence-based behavioral health programming.

“Breaking Free from Substance Abuse” is a digital Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program that helps incarcerated individuals achieve recovery from dependence on over 70 different substances, including opioids, stimulants, prescribed medications, and alcohol. The program is proven by extensive peer-reviewed research to be effective at helping people overcome drug and alcohol addiction, as well as improving their social functioning and mental health.

The Breaking Free program was rolled out at ODRC at the beginning of May 2020, and it is already supporting over 15,000 incarcerated individuals across 22 facilities to address their drug and alcohol difficulties. The response of both male and female incarcerated individuals to this digital behavioral support program has been extremely positive, with those in custody using it to access interventions around the clock. ODRC will continue to extend access to the program across its entire population.

“Given the positive impact of our digital innovation in UK prisons, we are thrilled to see it deployed by the forward-thinking leadership at ODRC via GTL’s tablets to strengthen the recovery and rehabilitation of inmates and augment the behavioral healthcare being delivered by clinicians,” said Dr. Jonathan Ward, Managing Director, Breaking Free Group. “Data provided to ODRC show that high levels of inmate engagement with the program are already producing significant improvements in substance dependence, mental health, and a range of protective factors against reoffending, including thinking skills, emotional regulation, impulse control, and resilience.” 

The “Breaking Free from Substance Abuse” program is tailored specifically to the corrections environment. For those individuals coming to the end of their incarceration, it focuses on preparing them for release, reducing their overdose risk, and improving their chances of successful reentry.

“Substance abuse and mental health issues are two major issues plaguing today’s correctional population,” said Pelicia Hall, GTL Senior Vice President, Reentry Programs. “When individuals with residual substance dependence are released, they often relapse, returning to lives of poverty, trauma, and, eventually, re-incarceration. They want to acquire jobs and keep their families together, but these aspirations seem insurmountable. By providing access to effective interventions such as Breaking Free, which address the needs of at-risk individuals before their release, we can help to break the cycle of incarceration and keep them on a path to successful reentry and rehabilitation.”

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