As Drug Courts enter their sixteenth year mark nationally, there are now over 1,500 Drug Courts across the country. Drug Courts approach to substance abuse is a marriage of therapy and judicial involvement. The program involves long-term treatment of generally a year or more, since research shows that outcomes improve with increased length of time in treatment. Also, it has been statistically proven that participants in drug treatment who have the added coercion of the court do not quit treatment too soon, thus showing stronger outcomes.
Since their inception, Drug Court programs have provided the most comprehensive and effective control of offenders criminal behavior and drug usage while in treatment and under the courts supervision. They outperform all other strategies for drug-involved offenders in producing ongoing results and a reduction in repeat offenses. The long-term rewards for the families of participants through increased employment skills, lower social service utilization and drug free babies born saves taxpayers countless dollars and produces lower crime and victimization in our communities.
Drug court programs differ from traditional treatment programs for several reasons. First of all, involvement in the legal system means that clients stay in treatment long enough for meaningful change to happen. If relapse occurs, it usually happens while in treatment when the client has access to specialized relapse programming to deal with the relapse and related issues.
Secondly, wraparound services that include vocational and educational areas, parenting training and housing assistance all help clients maintain sobriety. Meeting basic needs helps clients to focus on recovery and to become productive members of society. These services combined with intensive substance abuse and criminal behavior treatment improves the Drug Court participants contribution to their community by providing the tools needed for permanent life changes. Graduates of the program become effective members of the work force, providing hope and support to the families that had been impacted by their substance abuse and criminal behaviors.
Finally, regular drug testing is an important component of Drug Court Programs, as it gives the counselor the ability to use the test for therapeutic intervention as well as program compliance. With proof of a positive result, the counselor can deal with issues of denial and resistance in treatment. Medical intervention for clients who are using possibly lethal levels and combinations of drugs can be addressed immediately.