The need for effective treatment for drug and alcohol abuse has never been greater, and court ordered rehab is a valid form of alternative sentencing. According to many activists and health care professionals, addiction is a public health issue, and should be treated by rehabilitation rather than by incarceration.

Drug Courts and Rehab

While almost any court of law can order a drug related offender to attend rehab, there are special drug courts in some jurisdictions. These are specifically set up to deal with drug related offences, with the intention of improving outcomes for offenders. The courts and the criminal justice system can influence offenders by requiring their participation in mental health or substance abuse treatment. Such treatment can vary depending on the severity of the offence and the person’s addiction.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), an estimated 95% of inmates consume alcohol or other drugs after their release. Between 60% to 80% of released inmates commit a drug related crime.

Does treatment to prevent future drug or alcohol use and abuse break this cycle? Yes it does, according to research conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). This is why an offender who agrees to seek treatment and complete an addiction treatment program is offered an alternative to confinement or less severe sentences.

So, how does it work? The drug court assembles a treatment team comprising of a judge, lawyers, case managers, health providers and therapists, to work with the offender to ensure effective treatment as well as compliance with the law. It is intended to provide a comprehensive therapeutic experience. The members of the treatment team maintain regular communication, and encourage support from friends and family during hearings and therapy all the way to discharge.

Types of Court Ordered Rehab

As a form of rehab the court may order any of a selection of treatments. These could be:

  • Educational Programs – which are the most common and easily accessible;
  • Group Counselling – which is the second most common, and based on the 12 step model; and
  • Residential Counselling – which is the most intense program for substance abuse offenders, and is carried out within the prison system, whereby the offender is separated from the general prison population

Drug courts may also require stays at detox centers, inpatient rehab programs, outpatient therapy or self help groups. Community service hours may be ordered, or completion of vocational training.

Usually, participation in court ordered rehab continues after the prescribed treatment or therapy ends, because the courts understand that relapse is a common part of the recovery process. However, courts do not turn a blind eye to continued drug and alcohol abuse, and impose consequences for the same.

The Importance of Court Ordered Rehab

If rehab is to be successful, it is critical to realize that a forced abstinence from use of drugs and alcohol due to incarceration will not cure addiction. It will only force a detox from abusive substances, but the drug related offenders will not learn to avoid relapse, nor will they be prepared for abstinence when released. In the treatment of drug related offenders, teaching them to stay on the path of recovery is the true value of court ordered rehab.

Hired Power provides information and resources for addiction intervention and recovery. If you are struggling to kick a drug or substance use habit, call us. Let us help you create a solid foundation for lasting recovery. 1-800-910-9299


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