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Court Ordered Drug Rehab and Treatment Programs

Attending a court-ordered rehab program

Published: August 14, 2023

Court-ordered drug rehab and treatment programs target non-violent crimes committed because of a drug or alcohol addiction.

Studies have shown that sending offenders to prison doesn’t address the root cause of their issues. This is especially true in situations where the person committed the crime because they were on drugs at the time or to get money for drugs.

Drug-related crimes account for 46% of federal prisoners. At the state level, those incarcerated while on drugs equal 42%. Within the prison system, it’s estimated that 80% of the population has some type of substance use disorder (SUD).

This guide gives a breakdown of what court-ordered treatment looks like as an alternative sentence approach.

What Is Court-Ordered Rehab?

Court-ordered rehab is usually a long-term treatment plan devised by a multi-disciplinary team to help participants rehabilitate their lives.

As part of the program, participants are required to go through detox if needed. They also undergo extensive therapy and training to gain the tools to live a healthier life.

The skills gained in treatment are meant to make them more productive individuals and give them a chance at reintegrating into society as recovering drug addicts.

The Role Of Drug Courts

Drug courts have reduced the number of people imprisoned for committing non-violent crimes while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Originally, court-ordered rehab was managed solely by the court and its officers.

Over the past 30-plus years, court-ordered rehab continues to shift into something that offers a more evidence-based approach to substance abuse treatment for those who cross paths with the criminal justice system.

Drug courts and other treatment courts offer alternative sentencing to offenders who may benefit from intensive inpatient or outpatient treatment.

Can I Go To Rehab Instead Of Jail?

Yes, provided you meet the criteria for court-mandated rehab and complete all of the requirements.

As part of addiction treatment, you may be sent to involuntary rehab and expected to complete a number of classes, community service, and court check-ins.

Eligibility For Court-Ordered Rehab Programs

Many factors affect eligibility for court-ordered rehab, which means that it’s difficult to define. Generally speaking, first-time offenders who can prove drug-related offenses have a better chance of exchanging jail time for court-ordered treatment.

Factors that affect eligibility include:

  • Type of offense
  • Criminal history
  • Concerns of suicidal/homicidal thoughts
  • Evidence that rehab would be more beneficial
  • State of residence or where the crime was committed
  • Proof that the crime was drug-related
  • Plea entered
  • Presiding judge

How Court-Ordered Rehab Works

The court-ordered rehab process may vary by the state you’re sentenced in, but here’s a general breakdown of what to expect with these programs.

1. Offender Is Taken Into Custody

When a crime is committed and the person is caught, they’re arrested. They’re usually taken before a judge in a standard court setting.

2. Offender Is Transitioned for Alternative Sentencing

If the offender meets certain criteria, they can be recommended for drug court. At that point, they transition to alternative sentencing.

Any sentence the judge in traditional court would have issued is suspended or deferred for drug court proceedings, though they may be required to enter a guilty plea for the crime committed.

3. Offender Is Assigned to Drug Court

Every state has at least one drug court, as do some U.S. territories. Many have specialized bodies within drug court, like DWI/DUI court, opioid court, tribal court, juvenile drug treatment court, and veterans’ court.

When a person is assigned to drug court, the goal is to further evaluate their eligibility for entering court-mandated rehab. If found ineligible, they return to the more traditional criminal justice system process.

4. Offender Is Evaluated for Alcohol and Drug Treatment

If the offender is found to be eligible for treatment through drug court, they then become the central component of a team made up of the judge, defending and prosecuting attorneys, the parole officer, the caseworker, and medical and mental healthcare providers.

5. Judgment Is Issued

As part of the program, the offender agrees to have their rehab treatment monitored by the court. They understand that they’ll be required to submit to random drug testing often, make impactful life changes, and show up for court on a predetermined schedule.

6. Treatment Plan And Goals Are Determined

There are many goals that work well with court-mandated treatment programs. The offender works with a support system to address the root causes of criminal behavior due to substance use disorder.

7. Patient Begins A Drug Rehab Program

When a non-violent offender becomes a patient for treatment services as part of their drug rehabilitation, they have an opportunity to change their lives (and that of loved ones) for the better.

Throughout the program, participants will have incentives for completing stages and consequences for missed steps. Once the program is complete, there is often a graduation celebration.

Types Of Court-Ordered Rehab Programs

Ideally, your support team in drug court will work together to ensure that the treatment you’ll receive best fits your needs for success. Within rehab, there are several types of treatment, and you may not need each one.

Accelerated Rehab Programs

For first-time offenders, an accelerated rehab program may be the best option. These diversionary programs are offered in some states to offenders who are determined eligible, usually before a plea has been entered.

Most of the time, these programs are reserved for individuals with minor offenses and no history of crime or substance abuse.

Detox Programs

Depending on your addiction, you may need to start with a full detox program. These are for people with a history of heavy and frequent drug use.

Complete detoxification can take several weeks.

Inpatient Rehab Programs

Unlike outpatient rehab programs that allow you to live at home, inpatient rehab requires you to live at a treatment center while working through the program.

Inpatient treatment often begins with detox, for which you may need medical care. You may also begin therapy while staying at the treatment facility.

Group Therapy

Working through your issues in a group can seem intimidating. However, group counseling sessions provide an opportunity to build relationships with people who can relate to your challenges.

Group therapy sessions can include discussing issues and how best to handle them, trust exercises, and connecting with others to develop a community of support.

Substance Abuse Education Programs

Studies show that educating people in recovery about the effects of substances on their bodies, minds, and relationships plays a significant role in relapse prevention.
Once someone understands how harmful drugs and alcohol can be, it makes them less likely to use substances.

Residential Treatment During Incarceration

The federal prison system has the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP), which separates a group of inmates from the general population. This is not always court-mandated.

In the program, participants spend half their time working through treatments that may include individual or group counseling and education about substance abuse. The rest of their time is spent on learning and working to build skills.

What To Expect In Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment

The first step in drug treatment once you’re approved is detoxification. Depending on your addiction, you may be given medication and have vitals monitored to help your body through the process.

The next step is to work through any trauma history, triggers, and biological or environmental concerns. This will allow you to work on building coping mechanisms for relapse prevention. Methods may include therapy on an individual basis, group therapy, or support groups.

As you work through the program, you’ll get to steps to begin reintegration into society.

Along the way, you’ll report regularly to the court for updates, have frequent drug tests, and hopefully build up a community of people around you who may be going through or familiar with your challenges.

Benefits Of Court-Ordered Drug And Alcohol Rehab

Court-ordered rehab has proven to be successful in many ways. Involuntary rehab seems to be as effective as voluntary rehab, and both provide many benefits for offenders and the general population.

For society and communities, benefits include:

  • Lower cost to taxpayers
  • Reduction in prison populations
  • Increase in productive members of society

For individuals, benefits include:

  • Reduction in prison time
  • Gain tools for coping with triggers, cravings, and environmental factors
  • Relapse prevention
  • Better relationships with friends and family members
  • Able to operate within community/society as contributing member

Who Covers The Cost Of Court-Ordered Rehab Programs?

In most cases, the person assigned to court-ordered rehab is also responsible for footing the bill. Health insurance may cover part of the cost, and there may be additional discounts or financial assistance available, but that depends on the location and what’s offered nearby.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires health insurance companies who offer plans through the Marketplace to cover mental health services and substance abuse treatment. Coverage through public health programs like Medicare and Medicaid meet ACA standards.

However, not every insurance plan is mandated by the ACA, and within those requirements, there are different levels of coverage. You’ll need to look at your specific health insurance plan and speak with your insurance company to find out if your treatment options are covered.

Drug court lasts approximately 46 weeks for outpatient treatment and ranges in price from $3,500 – $7,000. Each time you go to drug court, the cost averages $5,000.

Failure To Complete Court-Ordered Rehab

Since court-ordered rehab is generally given as an alternative to jail time, failing to finish it often means that the offender then goes back to the courts.

This is not the same as relapsing while receiving treatment. Relapse is quite common during rehab, and many programs are designed to include that scenario and work to get the patient back on track.

In addition to possible prison time, an offender who doesn’t complete rehab successfully may have extensions to probation.

Does Court-Ordered Rehab Erase Drug Charges?

If you or a loved one goes through all components of court-mandated treatment, you may be eligible for dismissal of any criminal charges. The charges can also be expunged, depending on the circumstances.

Find Approved Court-Ordered Rehab Programs Near You

If you find yourself in the court system and receive orders from the judge for drug or alcohol rehab, it can be tricky to figure out which treatment option is best for you. Your area may not offer the type of rehab you really need.

To locate an appropriate court-mandated rehab center, you can call on our helpline. We’re happy to direct you to a treatment facility that will help you on your path to sober living.

Court-Ordered Rehab FAQs

Can I get court-ordered rehab for a second drug offense?

Your criminal history is one of many factors considered by the court to determine your eligibility for the treatment program. Previous drug-related offenses don’t immediately rule you out as a candidate.

Can I get court-ordered rehab if I was arrested on more than drug charges?

Yes. If the crimes meet certain criteria, like it can be proven that it was a drug-related crime, you may be eligible for court-ordered rehab instead of going to prison.

Will insurance cover court-ordered rehab programs?

It depends on what health insurance you have, where you live, and what type of rehab you’ve been ordered to. Additionally, not every part of treatment is medically based.

Some of the treatment services focus on building life skills and education. You may be able to get assistance with funding for out-of-pocket costs.

Who decides on the course of treatment for drug offenders in drug courts?

Usually, the members of the drug court (judge, attorneys, probation officer) coordinate with the case worker, medical professional, and therapist to determine what approach to treatment is best suited to your needs.

However, this can be affected by how drug court is mandated at your local, state, and federal levels. You may find yourself responsible for setting up your own rehab and other treatment even though the judge ordered it.

Do court-ordered rehab participants have to find their own programs?

Most of the time, participants should be directed to an appropriate program. This may be different in your area, especially if there aren’t any specialized treatment courts.

Do all rehab facilities offer court-ordered rehab programs?

Some rehab facilities have programs specifically designed for people who are in treatment because a judge ordered them to go. Otherwise, the rehab programs offered at a facility will be provided for offenders as well as non-offenders.

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