Drug courts provide an alternative to incarceration and enable participants to reduce (or often eliminate) charges for drug- or alcohol-related offenses by completing a structured treatment program.
According to the National Drug Court Resource Center, drug courts can reduce re-offense by 35-40 percent. Typically, the longer an individual stays in treatment, the higher the rate of success (usually, individuals participate in drug court for one to two years).
Typically, to be eligible for a drug court program, an individual must be a nonviolent offender with a low-level drug- or alcohol-related offense. Engagement in the program would mean the individual must comply with supervision and treatment requirements to have charges reduced or expunged.
Drug court programs typically include
- clinical treatment for substance use disorders.
- frequent and random drug tests.
- personalized case management services, connecting participants to employment/education opportunities, community service and pro-social activities.
- frequent court appearances.
At First Step Recovery, we engage with the drug court’s treatment team (which might include judges, lawyers, community corrections officers, social workers and other treatment professionals). We provide the full continuum of care (detox, inpatient and outpatient services) to new clients entering the program as well as ongoing clinical feedback about each client’s progress.
We also provide care to clients already engaged in the program. For example, a client may experience a setback in terms of a relapse. We would provide a detox bed as well as clinical support to allow the client to stabilize and then continue successfully on their journey with continued treatment and support.
Individuals who participate in drug court benefit by support in the forms of:
- Counseling—individuals are referred to a treatment provider to address substance use disorder and mental health needs
- 12-Step Recovery—clients engage in, and become members of, their local 12-step community by attending meetings, obtaining sponsorship and working the 12 steps
- Financial Resources—clients receive financial assistance to aid in removing barriers to treatment and recovery (for example, transportation assistance to ensure an individual can get to work and 12-step meetings or a gym membership so an individual can improve their physical and mental wellbeing)
- Community—individuals are among others who have committed similar offenses and are working toward similar goals
- Accountability—learning that wrong choices lead to negative consequence (for example, missing a drug screen could lead to community service or a few days in jail; using drugs/alcohol could result in being sanctioned)
- Contingency Management—learning that positive choices lead to rewards (for example, drug courts will often provide gas gift cards or pizza lunches for those who meet their benchmarks)
Further, clients are continually motivated by the knowledge that, if they are successful, their charges will be reduced or eliminated (instead of resulting in fines or jail time).