But the Swedish National Council on Crime Prevention (Brå), which issued the report, also warns that the risk for a return to criminality remains high and that the programme could be further expanded.
“We haven’t stood still since Brå carried out its study, but rather have continued down this path. Among other things, we’re working a lot to make the chain of care work, both in and out of the prison system,” said the head of the Prison and Probation Service, Lars Nylén.
Since 2002, Sweden’s prisons have been tasked by the government to make a concerted effort to reduce drug abuse among inmates.
More than 60 percent of those admitted into the Swedish prison system are drug abusers.
According to Brå’s analysis, which is based on abuse rates from 2006, there is a marked and statistically significant difference in relapse rates among those who have received special substance abuse care and those who have not.
One year after their release, around half of former inmates who participated in the programme suffered a relapse, compared with 58 percent for those who received no special treatment.
Six different prison treatment centres have been established in which all places are reserved for drug abusers.
In addition, there are treatment wards at other prisons, making for a total of 800 beds for inmates requiring treatment.
The best results come from the 12-step-method (known as the Minnesota Model), according to Brå.
The idea is to have participants help each other to live drug-free lives.
The treatment is most effective for those who are at least 30-years-old.