NIDA Introduces the Drugs and Brain Wallet Card

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Being in prison for three and a half years, I saw dozens of women get released, many leaving with only the clothes on their back and a bus pass provided by the Department of Corrections. Unsurprisingly, they’d re-offend and return to prison a few short months later.

After all, incarceration did little, if anything, to help with their addictions. Counseling, therapy, and self-betterment programs were generally not provided while they were behind bars.

Plus, the temptation faced once they made it outside a controlled environment often proved to be way too much to handle. Relapse for these women was almost inevitable.

What is a Brain Wallet?

a way to combat this problem and provide support for those newly released, the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recently revealed a new relapse prevention tool for those departing correctional facilities: the Drugs and the Brain Wallet Card (DBWC).

“NIDA developed the DBWC as a resource for people during this vulnerable period, but it is broadly applicable to many other settings,” said Tisha Wiley, Ph.D., health scientist administrator in the Services Research Branch at NIDA. “Individuals who participate in residential treatment are similarly likely to relapse upon returning home.”

The small trifold card, measuring 2 inches by 3.5 inches, can easily be kept in a purse, pocket or wallet and serves as a customizable guide for those about to transition back into society – coming either from prison or a treatment program. The DBWC contains space for a person or counselor to identify and fill in individual triggers, as well as space to jot down local resources to contact in time of need, such as a trusted friend, close family member or a state-level helpline. Helpline resources include SAMHSA’s treatment locator, the Suicide Prevention Lifeline and NIDA’s website.

Will it Work?

The card offers a short explanation of the risk of overdose following relapse, along with information about naloxone. With drug-related deaths being highest during the first two weeks after a person is released from prison, the tool aims to provide awareness of the very real and significant risk each addicted person faces.

“By having the card on-hand, if an at-risk offender needs immediate help, they know what resources are available to them,” Wiley explained.

So far, the DBWC has proven to be a popular resource since NIDA released it last December, with more than 90,000 cards having been distributed to those in need. It can be ordered – free of charge – from the NIDA Research Dissemination Center. You can find ordering instructions and all the additional information you’ll need here.

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