Around this time of year, our thoughts turn to the people who will NOT be going home for Christmas. How do people cope going from prison back into society? Not well, which is why so many of them end up back in prison, usually sooner rather than later.

Psychologist Lindsay Phillips says, "There is a defined process experienced by participants, which is initial optimism about release, followed by craving substances, facing practical barriers, or feeling overwhelmed. This eventually results in avoidance of managing problems and emotions and substance abuse relapse, which culminates in recidivism."

Phillips studied 20 individuals who returned to an urban prison to examine their most recent reentry process to identify barriers they faced and coping strategies they used. She says, "Although some tried to cope in a healthy manner initially, all eventually resulted in avoidance of managing problems and emotions. All relapsed into substance abuse. At this point, problems increased and all participants recidivated (went back to jail)."

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