The story of Carlos, now 37, who started using heroin as a teenager and has been in and out of prisons and jails since age 18, is a good example of the importance of family and community connections.
From August 1998 through July 2001, researchers at the Vera Institute of Justice evaluated La Bodega de la Familia, a program operated by the Vera Institute and dedicated to improving family well-being by supporting families of drug users under parole or probation supervision.
In 2001, La Bodega de la Familia moved to Family Justice, a new national organization created to influence and improve criminal justice policies and practice. From November 2004 to January 2006, staff at Family Justice designed and began to implement a strategic communications plan aimed at expanding the new organization's scope and reach.
Substance use (illegal drugs, methadone, alcohol to intoxication, abuse of amphetamines, sedatives or barbiturates) among participants in La Bodega de la Familia declined by 42 percent over six months, compared with a 7 percent decline among comparison group members over the same time period.
Illegal drug use (heroin, cocaine, crack, marijuana and hallucinogens) among participants in La Bodega de la Familia declined by 47.5 percent over six months, compared with a 21 percent decline among comparison group members over the same time period.
Families participating in La Bodega de la Familia program were about 50 percent less likely to be arrested and convicted of a new offense as comparison group members.