This national project helps organizations provide incarcerated people with the tools and support they need to manage substance use disorders before they are released from prison, so that they can self-manage relapse prevention over the long term once they’re released. 

Project SUCCEED helps providers engage people both before and after they are released from prison, deepening their understanding of addiction as a chronic condition and providing comprehensive, ongoing support that can include housing, treatment, and support groups. It also equips community-based organizations to be a key resource for people in their first year after release from prison.

The opportunity

In the United States, an estimated 58 percent of adults who are incarcerated in state prisons and 63 percent of people who have been sentenced to jail have a substance use disorder. For too long, these disorders have been treated primarily through short-term interventions—12 to 28 days on average—and have emphasized abstinence as a solution. In such programs, there is a 70 to 80 percent dropout rate, and only a 30 percent success rate among people who complete the entire program. The risk of opioid overdose after being released from prison is 40 times higher than that of the general population.

There is a growing recognition that short-term interventions are ineffective, and to truly prevent relapse, recidivism, and overdose, substance use disorders must be treated as chronic conditions that require lifelong self-management.

The initiative

Strengthening Support for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Individuals to Address Substance Use Disorder as a Chronic Condition is a training and 12-month learning collaborative. A nationwide initiative, CAI is working with staff at seven sites across the country, including Harris County, Texas; Portland, Oregon; and Washington, DC.

CAI’s support to participating agencies includes:

  • Training facilitators. In a five-day training, organization staff gain the skills, knowledge, and confidence to deliver CAI’s Project SUCCEED curriculum to the incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals they work with.
  • Coaching and providing technical assistance. In one-on-one monthly sessions and through ongoing technical assistance, staff are supported as they facilitate trainings and connect individuals to long-term, post release services.
  • Providing a “home base” for newly released people and strengthening connections with other service providers. To ensure that clients are connected to the services they need and that the SUCCEED training does not stand alone, CAI helps participating agencies improve their referral and linkage systems with community-based organizations.

The impact

By deepening understanding of the chronic nature of substance abuse and training professionals to help incarcerated and previously incarcerated individuals build life skills and connections, the project has the potential to reduce recidivism, relapse, and deaths from overdose.


Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the State Opioid Response Technical Assistance (SOR-TA) and American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry (AAAP).

Project contact

Funding for this initiative was made possible (in part) by grant no. 1H79TI083343 from SAMHSA. The views expressed in written conference materials or publications and by speakers and moderators do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services; nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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