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Drug Court Explained

Drug court is surprisingly common in the United States, but unless you’ve been through the system yourself, chances are that you’ve probably never heard of it. In simple terms, drug court is a specialized judicial branch that oversees and hears cases related to non-violent drug offenders. The overall goal of drug court is to provide an alternative to jail for people who need help with substance abuse problems and the types of criminal activity that addicts are often involved in during episodes of drug seeking. Learning about drug court is important for all Americans because in most cases drug addiction is really more about needing treatment than needing jail time.

There are approximately 2,500 drug courts throughout nearly every region of the U.S., and each of them has the singular goal in mind of keeping addicts out of jail and in treatment. In fact, most drug courts are run by public servants that are dedicated to treating addiction as a public health problem instead of an inherently criminal one. Judges, attorneys, law enforcement, health workers and others are usually involved in the drug court process.

Drug court works by providing intense supervision to make certain that people in recovery stay on track. This includes regular and random drug and alcohol testing, consistent reporting to case managers, participation in treatment programs, and prompt intervention by the drug court team should the person in question have a setback or relapse. Overall, the idea of drug court is to closely monitor participants and engage with them frequently in order to keep them focused and dedicated to change.

Unfortunately, some people who are selected for the program only feel relief that they are not going to jail and are not actually committed to getting clean and changing their lives. For these people, drug court will act swiftly if it deems further legal action to be appropriate. In an article for Rapid City Journal, Amada Friar Meade talks about a drug court participant:

“Hermanson remembered thinking that as long as she got through the program, she could go back to her daily life, but the program required that she change her way of life, not just her habits. After spending a week in jail because of a bad attitude, Hermanson realized how serious the Drug Court team really was. She has been clean and sober for two years now, which she said is exhilarating.” (1)

This shows how committed to the success of program participants the drug court is: if you’re not following the rules, showing a good attitude and keeping your commitments, you could end up in jail even if you didn’t relapse. This also indicates that the monitoring process is extremely effective and is coupled with the ability of the court to act quickly. This requires extensive cooperation between all public service and health officials.

The intensity of the drug court model apparently works well. According to the Wikipedia entry for Drug Court;

“Recidivism rates for offenders who have graduated from Drug Courts have been consistently proven to be lower than recidivism rates of offenders who did not take part in a Drug Court program. The average recidivism rate for those who complete Drug Court is between 4% and 29%, in contrast to 48% for those who do not participate in a Drug Court program.” (2)

Therefore, it’s prudent to argue that not only do we need more awareness about these types of programs, but we need to create enough education about them to bring them to smaller, more rural towns and cities that as of today simply send their non-violent drug offenders to prison.

If you or someone you love is traveling down the rocky path of drug addiction and crime, the time to take action is right now. Call the number at the top of your screen for an immediate consultation, or simply fill out the short insurance form to the right of this page to see if you’re covered. Act now, before the choice to act on your own is gone.

(1) Meade, Amanda Friar Drug court graduates change lives, avoid drugs Rapid City Journal 05/23/2012 http://rapidcityjournal.com/news/local/communities/sturgis/drug-court-graduates-change-lives-avoid-drugs/article_d09ce8ba-a48f-11e1-8cee-0019bb2963f4.html
Accessed 05/23/2012

(2) Wikipedia Drug Court
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drug_court
Accessed 05/23/2012

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More