Court-Ordered Rehab

In almost all states, judges in drug courts are able to order those arrested for drug- or alcohol-related charges to enroll in drug and alcohol rehab programs.  This procedure is called “court-ordered” or “coerced” rehabilitation because those people entering the treatment programs are doing it under the auspices of the court’s wishes and not under their own powers. Treatment may be received on an in-patient or out-patient basis or a combination of the two. 

Who is eligible for court-ordered rehab?

Both adults and teens are candidates for court-ordered rehab. 

People who were arrested for alcohol related incidents like DUIs and DWIs may be ordered by the court to enroll in a residential rehabilitation program or to attend meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous or another addiction group.

Similarly, those arrested for illegal drug related charges that stem from use and possession rather than an intent to distribute may also be ordered by a judge to undergo treatment for addiction, whether the person is addicted or uses the drugs recreationally.

First-time, non-violent offenders are the most likely people to be recommended for court-ordered rehab. 

What are the benefits of court-ordered rehab?

The benefits of court-ordered rehab are many.

  • Court-ordered rehab may involve a shortening of one’s jail sentence. 
  • It can help families provide treatment to loved ones who have previously resisted treatment.
  • Often, the successful completion of the rehabilitation program also includes the person’s criminal record for that particular crime being expunged.   

What are the drawbacks of court-ordered rehab?

Though court-ordered rehab programs can and do work, sometimes the programs fail the people enrolled in them. 

  • Because people are coerced or forced into rehab by the court system, they may not want to be there, making it more likely that will suffer a relapse. 
  • Relapses, which often result in a jail sentence, cost the state more money because the state often pays for the treatment and then must pay for any time the person spends in prison.
  • Waiting periods for beds in residential treatment programs can be lengthy, leaving first-time drug offenders and non-violent criminals in over-crowded prisons without treatment. 
  • Some people may not be addicts, like those who are convicted of DUIs or DWIs, and yet are labeled as addicts in programs. 

What types of programs can be ordered by the court?

  • Residential: At a residential program, those undergoing treatment stay at a group home or treatment center.  Residential programs can be short-term, ranging from one to four weeks, or long-term, lasting more than 90 days.  During short-term programs, patients may or may not go through detoxification.  During long-term rehabilitation programs, patients will work through a detox period. 
  • Out-patient: In out-patient rehab programs, patients do not stay in a treatment facility.  They may live in their own home or in a group home for other recovering addicts.  During out-patient therapy, patients may attend 12-step meetings with Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or at a local rehab facility. They may also take classes on making healthy lifestyle choices.

Many people in court-ordered rehab will participate in out-patient therapy after they have completed a residential program. 

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