Most decisions to enter treatment for substance abuse are not often made by the individual who needs it; someone or something is forcing the substance abuser to enter treatment.  They enter substance abuse treatment because their spouse or family’s ultimatum, fear of going to jail, losing their job, or deteriorating mental and physical health.

When an individual is legally encouraged by their attorney for a recent DUI, or mandated through a drug court as a condition of pretrial release, probation, or parole to participate in substance abuse treatment this may be “a blessing in disguise.” Those who are court involved tend to remain in treatment for a longer period of time which is usually preferred by the courts. As a result, more criminally involved clients overall have lower relapse rates, reduction of criminal activities and less recidivism. Studies have shown that outcomes for those who are legally motivated and/or pressured to enter treatment have the same or better treatment outcomes than those who entered treatment without any legal pressure.

Court mandated treatment usually involves a completion of all levels of treatment in addition to a strong presence of 12-Step involvement and regular meeting attendance. There are a variety of levels of care available depending on the circumstances of each person.

  • Residential or inpatient treatment
  • Intensive outpatient treatment
  • If available basic outpatient or brief intervention counseling
  • Aftercare/continuing care

Although forced abstinence does not equal recovery it certainly helps when considering the consequences of continual use, relapse, arrest, or incarceration. Those who stay engaged in treatment and/or comply with the court mandate increase their chances of recovering from their addiction and maintaining ongoing abstinence.

Those who are being released from incarceration or have experienced long periods of abstinence in a controlled environment also benefit from entering and engaging in substance abuse treatment. They still need to learn how to avoid relapse pitfalls and acquire coping skills to deal with stressors, feelings and emotions.

Coordinating services between the substance abuse treatment and those who are the court personnel, such as, probation and parole officers need to establish open communication and transparency to ensure client’s accountable, responsible and ownership for violations. Treatment success will depend mainly on the individual’s response to the treatment program structure and compliance to other wraparound services that support total abstinence, life style changes, a shift in attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors to help prevent relapse and promote ongoing recovery.

Measuring the client’s treatment progress and compliance will need to be closely monitored. One of the most effective ways to measure progress and monitor compliance is to combine the substance abuse treatment, the criminal justice system and any other services involved. Treatment and court appointed personnel will need to work together by sharing drug screening monitoring and testing results, treatment plans and objectives as well as utilizing and implementing therapeutic and efficient use of sanctions. Treatment for those who are court involved must include continuing care and close monitoring to ensure success.

Some of the risk factors for court involved clients include family members who continue to enable their loved ones or continually taking responsibility and/or accountability for their actions. Another is the criminal lifestyle or addicted life style. There is a saying in recovery “if the drugs don’t kill you, the lifestyle will.” The individual’s lack of coping skills, work experience, people, places, and things, and the fact we do recover from drugs and alcohol but not criminal records bring on its own unique challenges.

Emphasizing structure, self-discipline, building self-confidence and a healthy sense of belonging with a support system is most certainly needed to ensure continuous success. Securing a safe environment is an important for long lasting recovery, and there are a variety of housing options:

  1. transitional housing
  2. recovery homes
  3. halfway houses
  4. three quarter houses

The need to comply with treatment expectations and court mandated conditions can be a powerful deterrent from continuing use of any substance, but a continuum care may need to be extended over a longer period of time and across several layers of services to be successful. New Hope Recovery Center provides a large continuum of care in order to provide our clients with a variety of treatment levels. Contact us today if you or a loved one suffers from chronic alcoholism or drug addiction. There is help and there is hope!

Written by: New Hope Recovery Center