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Drug Rehab as an Alternative to Jail

If you have been arrested for a non-violent, drug-related crime such as a DUI (driving under the influence), you will not necessarily go to jail. You may be able to go to a drug court following your arrest, where you may qualify for an addiction rehab program as an alternative to jail time.

There are more than 3,500 drug courts across the United States, and each one aims to help those in the criminal justice system who struggle with addiction.1 An addiction rehabilitation program will provide you with the help you need to recover from substance misuse and reduce your risk of relapse.

What Is a Drug Court?

A drug court is a specialized court program that serves the following individuals:1

  1. Adults charged with or convicted of a crime.
  2. Youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
  3. Parents with pending welfare cases who also have drug or alcohol dependency issues.

Drug courts are designed to reduce the risk of criminal recidivism (committing another crime) and relapse. These programs provide offenders with substance misuse issues the opportunity to start on the path to recovery through rehabilitation instead of jail time.

Who Operates Drug Courts?

Drug courts employ a range of individuals who work together to manage the drug court program. Some of the drug court team members may include:

  • Addiction professionals.
  • Corrections officers.
  • Defense attorneys.
  • Judges.
  • Prosecutors.
  • Social workers.

What Services Do Drug Courts Offer?

Drug court program services may vary depending on the population they serve. However, most drug courts follow a similar program model that includes the following features and services:1

  • A thorough assessment of individual needs and risks.
  • Drug Addiction treatment.
  • Drug testing, monitoring, and supervision.
  • Incentives for positive and drug-free behaviors.
  • Interaction with a multidisciplinary judiciary team.
  • Various rehabilitation services.

Adult vs. Juvenile Drug Courts

Adult drug court programs consist of recidivism and relapse prevention services through a variety of interventions. While juvenile drug court programs offer many of the same services, they tend to also provide counseling, drug education, and family therapy.1 Juvenile drug court programs help youth offenders identify and avoid problematic patterns in the future by:1

  1. Building coping skills.
  2. Fostering accountability.
  3. Improving functioning.
  4. Teaching family members how to provide guidance and structure.
  5. Uncovering underlying issues that may influence drug use.

Family Drug Courts

Family drug courts address child welfare cases in which a parent is facing allegations of child abuse or neglect due to drug or alcohol misuse. Family drug courts aim to help the parents by:1

  1. Developing and improving coping strategies.
  2. Improving parenting skills.
  3. Promoting self-sufficiency on a personal, financial, and emotional level.
  4. Providing services to their children.

Are Drug Courts Effective?

Although rehab versus jail can be debated, there have been numerous studies on the effectiveness of drug court programs in preventing continued alcohol and drug use and further criminal offenses.

One such study in Portland, Oregon revealed that the drug court programs decreased criminal recidivism in participating offenders for up to 14 years after initiation of the program.2 Meanwhile, a Wisconsin study revealed further supporting evidence in the efficacy of drug court programs. Drug court participants typically refrained from committing crimes for longer periods of time compared to non-participants.3 These drug court programs were found to be especially beneficial for minorities, older individuals, serious criminal offenders, and women.3

Another study of drug courts throughout the U.S. revealed that drug court programs were found to decrease future criminal behaviors from 50% to 38% for up to 3 years after completion of the program.4

Why Are Drug Courts and Rehab Programs More Successful Than Jail?

Drug courts provide offenders with a highly structured environment that promotes cooperation and completion of the program. Those who have a high risk of not completing other services without support may especially benefit from drug court programs.

Typically, people who commit drug-related crimes require a comprehensive program to help decrease recurring offenses and substance misuse. Without supervision by a judge and other criminal justice employees, many offenders do not attend treatment regularly, or even at all.

Drug court programs have been found to:5

  1. Improve employment.
  2. Improve family functioning.
  3. Decrease problematic drug use.

These programs are also not just beneficial for first-time offenders; they are also beneficial for those with more severe substance misuse and criminal records.5 Many prisons do not provide those suffering from drug or alcohol addiction the proper treatment for maintaining sobriety once their prison sentence has ended.

If you are considering addiction treatment, it can feel overwhelming. The good news is most insurance companies cover at least part of the cost of rehab. You can check your insurance by calling the number on the back of your insurance card or online by filling out the form below. The process is easy and fast, and you will have peace of mind knowing what your insurance plan covers.

Getting Help for Addiction

American Addiction Centers (AAC) is dedicated to supporting individuals struggling with addiction on their journey to recovery. If you are looking for rehabs near me or information on rehab treatment you can contact us 24/7 at  to learn more.


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