Victims of debt after imprisonment: Experiences of Norwegians with substance use challenges
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionScandinavian Psychologis. 2019, 6. 10.15714/scandpsychol.6.e1
Victims of debt after imprisonment: Experiences of Norwegians with substance use challenges Persons with ongoing substance use problems are highly represented in groups with low income, high unemployment rates, and high levels of criminal behaviour. Those who leave prison often face economic and social problems, difficult living conditions, and unemployment. One important problem is debt, which may prevent ex-prisoners from gaining an economic foothold, even when employed. The aim of this study was to examine how financial security may support ex-prisoners by creating conditions wherein they can successfully re-enter society. Data were collected through multistage focus-group interviews with seven participants and were analysed by thematic, qualitative analyses. The results revealed that participants dreamt of an ordinary life with sufficient money. They experienced a paralysing burden of debt and emphasised the importance of receiving debt support and being employed. Such support made it possible to move towards economic freedom. The findings highlight the link between a lack of money and difficult life circumstances when trying to establish a life after release from prison as well as the connection between substance use and poverty. Participants experienced increased autonomy and freedom after receiving debt assistance and they stressed the importance of regular income. This study illustrates that social support may counteract exclusion and segregation, and it elucidates the importance of both community participation and viewing oneself as part of society. Keywords: debt problems, ex-prisoner, social support, substance use.