Court-ordered treatment is a multi-faceted issue due to the complicated relationship between illegal activity and drug addiction. In fact, because so many people who are accused of criminal activity also struggle with the larger issues of addiction, many health care professionals claim that this is a public health issue and more people should receive treatment for their addiction instead of being incarcerated.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), “50 percent of state and federal prisoners meet the clinical criteria for a substance use disorder, but only 20 percent receive substance abuse treatment.” The line is extremely blurred because many people do deserve punishment for their crimes and substance abuse that is illegal, but they also need addiction treatment to help with the larger issue.

In addition, it is extremely hard to break this cycle, as the NCADD also estimates that “95 percent of inmates consume alcohol or other drugs after leaving confinement, and between 60 and 80 percent commit a drug-related crime after being released.” In an effort to help individuals in the long run and get their life back, courts can offer court-ordered treatment in combination with a less severe sentence or as an alternative to incarceration altogether.

What are the types of court-ordered rehab treatments?

Having an addict just quitting a substance cold turkey is not an effective form of treatment and can often produce more harm than good. While it may be a forced detox to remove the substance out of their body, it is not an effective method of teaching them how to recover from addiction and can lead to painful withdrawal symptoms and future relapse.

The Journal for Substance Abuse treatment outlines how many court-ordered treatment programs include intense supervision, day-to-day reporting, and vocational education and training. Courts can also require criminals to complete full treatment programs, to comply with regular drug testing, or to join some type of support group. This court-ordered rehab treatment can either be completed during incarceration or after.

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The types of court-ordered treatment include:

Educational Programs

Educational programs are the most common type of court ordered treatment because they are the most accessible treatment program. In 2007, according to the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 71% of prisons in America had a program to educate and promote awareness of substance abuse and addiction. However, for severe cases educational programming alone may not be enough. Many times, officers use these programs to identify those who will need more intense treatment.

Group Counseling Programs

After educational programming, group counseling was the second most common court ordered alcohol or drug treatment. Group counseling usually takes the form of a common 12-step model, like Alcoholics Anonymous. Many of these programs focus on developing problem-solving skills and how to cope with addiction triggers. The Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment writes that 54% of prisons had group counseling for at least four hours a week.

Residential Programs

The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) is a treatment program that is separated from rest of the prison population. In this community, cognitive behavioral therapy is used and offenders participate in a half day of programming and the other half of the day is either work school or other vocational activities. The program is typically 9 months long and has been proven to reduce relapse and crimes rates for those who complete the program.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient treatment is usually for reserved for those who do not qualify for the residential drug abuse program and are only serving a short sentence. These treatment programs usually involve cognitive behavioral therapy that teaches participants how to enhance their communication skills, think rationally, adjust to their community, and finally, avoid future criminal activity.

Community-Based Programs

Community based programs are often halfway houses or individuals on home confinement with the goal to help offenders when they are in a vulnerable time of transition. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has community partners that assist with social work, counseling, and other psychiatric services.

Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment

While court-ordered treatment for drug abuse or alcohol abuse can be very beneficial, it really is only effective if the criminal wants to get better and fully participate in the program. A study by the Federal Bureau of Prisons illustrated that court ordered treatment can reduce relapse, reduce inmate misconduct, increase education and employment rates upon discharge, improve interpersonal relationships, and improve overall health.