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DR. ANNA PICKERING

Medically reviewed by

01/25/2020

Court-ordered rehab is an option sometimes given to convicted persons rather than a jail sentence. This option is a way in which the criminal justice system strives to help those who are suffering from substance use disorders and commit crimes due to their addictions. Each court-ordered rehab sentence will vary based on the person’s crime, level of addiction, and previous convictions. Here we take a look at what court-ordered rehab means, the different types of court-ordered rehab programs, and the consequences of not attending or finishing court-ordered treatment. Many times law enforcement has stepped in a required help for specific substance abuse problems.

What is Court-ordered Rehab?

Rather than imposing a jail sentence on a convicted person, a drug court or judge may offer the option of attending a court-ordered rehab program instead. Court-ordered rehab programs are similar to traditional addiction treatment, but if the person does not attend or complete the program they will face legal consequences. The purpose of offering court-ordered drug and alcohol rehab as an option is to provide people with the help they need rather than simply punish them by putting them in jail.

The exact specifications of a court-ordered rehab program will vary based on several factors that include the following:

* The state and county the convicted person lives in
* The crime(s) committed
* Whether the individual has previous offenses
* The level of addiction the individual is dealing with

For example, if someone just received their first DUI or DWI conviction, the court may only require that they attend educational classes on the effects of alcohol or attend an alcohol addiction support group like Alcoholics Anonymous. However, if someone is convicted for their second or third DWI or DUI, the courts may require them to complete an inpatient addiction treatment program as classes and support groups have shown to be of insufficient help to that person. Many of these programs support mental health as well. Just treating the addiction isn’t always going to help your loved one.

When someone chooses to attend a court-ordered drug rehab program rather than fulfill a jail sentence, they will be required to complete the program in full within a set period of time. Failure to attend the rehab program or complete the program can result in legal consequences.

What is Drug Court?

Drug court is a specialized court that focuses primarily on convictions related to drugs and alcohol. Drug courts were put in place as an effort to improve rehabilitation outcomes for offenders who commit drug-related offenses. Rather than giving offenders a jail sentence, drug courts try to help the person as much as possible by requiring them to attend a drug-ordered rehab program or other recovery-based efforts.

Drug courts are often made up of several professionals that include doctors, lawyers, therapists, counselors, and judges. The goal is to offer offenders a team of individuals who can recommend the most appropriate form of treatment and ensure the individual goes through with it.

Drug courts may require participation in the following:

* Medically supervised detox programs
* Outpatient substance abuse treatment
* Inpatient drug addiction programs
* Addiction therapy
* Drug testing to monitor abstinence from substances
* Community service hours
* Vocational training
* Support groups like AA or NA meetings
* Educational classes related to drug abuse and alcohol abuse

Failing to complete the required court-ordered addiction treatment and related tasks may result in more severe consequences than what was initially mandated.

Examples of crimes that may result in someone being tried by a drug court include:

* Possession of drugs
* Trafficking of drugs
* DWIs and DUIs
* Crimes related to drugs such as robbing a store for drug money

Different Types of Court-Ordered Addiction Programs

There are several types of court-ordered addiction programs that a person may be required to complete in lieu of a jail sentence. The following are the most common court-ordered rehab programs:

Drug Counseling

Many of these drug related crimes can be salvaged if the right court-ordered drug and alcohol facility is located. Counseling is a fairly common component of a person’s requirements, especially engaging family members during the rehab. Finally when completing treatment their past drug use will be looked upon as non-criminal, resulting in a lesser charge. These therapy sessions are typically conducted in groups and based on 12-step recovery methods. Counseling and educational programs also focus on teaching individuals how to manage their stress and deal with cravings and triggers in a healthy and effective way to prevent relapse. These counseling sessions, which provide medical advice, may be conducted by in-house therapists that are part of the drug court team or from an outside counselor who specializes in addiction. Drug counseling can be completed while a person is incarcerated, on parole, or living in a halfway house. They deal with everything ranging from mental health disorders, to health problems.

Outpatient Addiction Treatment

Court-ordered outpatient rehab programs are a common requirement put in place by drug courts.  With several treatment options in the United States, finding the best one is important. Outpatient treatment for criminal offenders may be organized through a correctional agency or by an addiction treatment facility that has contracted with the drug court. This type of court-ordered rehab focuses on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to help individuals learn how to change their thoughts and behaviors in a way that’s supportive of addiction recovery.

Inpatient Addiction Treatment

Residential court-ordered programs are those that require offenders to undergo intensive addiction treatment on a residential basis. Some individuals are able to seek court-ordered inpatient rehab outside of the legal system through treatment facilities that work directly with the court. The Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) is another inpatient option that individuals complete while imprisoned. This program is separate from the general prison population and typically lasts up to nine months. The criminal court system will relay on the treatment work from the inpatient treatment program.

Community-based Addiction Programs

The final type of commonly prescribed court-ordered addiction treatment is community-based programs. These programs are most often required when individuals are transitioning back into the community after jail or inpatient rehab. Community-based programs can include counseling, psychiatric services such as medication management, and social work. Many health care providers will offer some type of health insurance payment for a treatment center.

What Happens if You Refuse to Attend a Court-Ordered Rehab Program?

Court-ordered rehab programs are typically presented to offenders as an alternative option to going to jail, being on parole, or being on probation. If the individual refuses to complete the court system  requirements, they will most likely have to serve a longer jail sentence than what was initially ordered. If court-ordered addiction treatment goes against an offender’s constitutional rights, they are allowed to refuse the rehab program offer and not face additional jail time.

If a person agrees to attend a court-ordered rehab program and fails to finish the program, they may also be subjected to legal punishment. This could include being required to complete their original sentence or could result in a more severe sentence.

Is Court-ordered Rehab Free?

In short, court-ordered rehab is rarely if ever free. In fact, the defendant is required to pay for the treatment program on their own in most cases. This can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $35,000 depending on the type of addiction rehab program and how long the offender is required to stay in the program. Individuals are also required to pay for any time spent living in a halfway or sober living house.

Is Court-Ordered Rehab Effective?

Many people enter into a rehab program due to pressure from the legal system. This means that these individuals get help when they otherwise would not seek treatment on their own. However, the effectiveness of the rehab program is ultimately up to each person and how seriously they take the program.

Studies have found that people who go to rehab as a result of a court order have similar outcomes to those who go on their own. Those who stay in the addiction treatment program for at least 90 days tend to have the most success and have significantly lower rates of illegal behavior and substance abuse.

Benefits of court-ordered rehab programs include:

* Improved health and wellness
* Improved employment rates
* Reduced behavioral issues and legal activity
* Reduced rates of relapse
* Better relationships with self and others

If you would like to learn more about court-ordered drug rehab or find a rehab center that offers court-ordered addiction treatment programs, give one of our treatment specialists today. We’d be happy to help you find the best rehab facility for you and to answer any questions you may have.

Sources

US Dept. Of Justice Drug Courts - https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/238527.pdf
Science Direct Effect of drug treatment during work release on new arrests and incarcerations - https://www.cdhs.udel.edu/content-sub-site/Documents/Publications/Effect%20of%20Drug%20Treatment%20During%20Work%20Release%20on%20New%20Arrests%20and%20Incarcerations.pdf
Federal Bureau of Prisons Offenses - https://www.bop.gov/about/statistics/statistics_inmate_offenses.jsp
PubMed.gov The Effectiveness of Drug Abuse Treatment: A Meta-Analysis of Comparison Group Studies - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12062779
NIDA Principles of Drug Abuse Treatment for Criminal Justice Populations - https://www.drugabuse.gov/sites/default/files/txcriminaljustice_0.pdf