Drug addiction has been subjected to political, legal and medical control, oscillating between phases of criminalization and medicalization. In recent decades, the shift emerging in criminal culture towards rehabilitation rather than repression of drug addicts, and the biomedicalization process applied to addiction seems to outline a consistent control model; however, several critical points can be identified. Through a qualitative study based on semi-structured interviews, conducted with 15 healthcare professionals involved in the drug treatment of inmates, these critical points have been discussed and basically confirmed. On the one hand, the partial implementation of the rehabilitation model is evident in the organizational difficulties that emerged (scarcity of human resources, limited spaces and lack of sufficient funding), which do not provide a suitable recovery program for all inmates. On the other hand, the medical model seems unable to attenuate stigmatizing attitudes, especially towards several weaker social categories. Finally, biomedicalization remains a general concept, but the treatment process is still oriented towards cognitive-behavioral normalization.
Keywords: Drug addiction; prison; inmates; immigrants; addiction treatment; alternatives to imprisonment.