What Is Court-Ordered Rehab?
Court-ordered rehabilitation, or court-mandated rehab, is mandatory rehabilitation treatment ruled by a judge to be the most prudent consequence for an individual who struggles with substance abuse.
Court-mandated treatment can serve as an alternative to prison time, and may be sentenced according to the nature, or severity, of the offense. Those who have committed or been charged with a major crime may not be eligible. However, if the drug-related crime was non-violent or considered minor, a judge may order an individual to enter mandatory alcohol treatment in lieu of prosecution or incarceration.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), court-mandated rehab can often be the primary path that leads a person struggling with problem drinking or alcohol addiction towards treatment. This is particularly true for those who have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI) and underage drinking.
How To Get Court-Ordered Rehab
Court-ordered rehabilitation may be ordered under a court ruling as appropriate for the circumstances. There are two ways in which a person may be brought to court for a hearing and ordered to undergo mandatory treatment.
A person may be brought to court due to a crime committed under the influence of alcohol or in relation to substance dependency.
Alternatively, a person may also be mandated treatment if a loved one has submitted a form requesting involuntary treatment. In this case, proper authorities such as judges or psychiatrists may assess the decision.
If a person has reached a drug court in the aftermath of committing a crime, there are certain factors that may make them eligible for mandatory alcohol rehabilitation:
- the crime was non-violent
- the crime was directly or indirectly related to drug dependency or alcohol abuse
- the court majority has deemed mandatory treatment to be the option most likely to be effective
- the individual qualifies for probation
The Link Between Alcohol And Crime
As a substance that is known to cause reduced inhibition and judgment, and raise impulsivity and level of aggression, alcohol intoxication has links to several types of crime.
Certain circumstances—such as driving drunk, drinking underage, public intoxication, and having open containers—can lead to legal consequences. Individuals who are intoxicated may also commit and be consequently charged with assault.
Additional alcohol-related crimes include:
- domestic violence
- child abuse and neglect
- breaking and entering
- robbery or burglary
In 2004, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) published results of a survey showing that as many as 32 percent of state inmates reported being under the influence of alcohol or drugs when they committed the crime they were charged with.
What Are Drug Courts?
Drug courts, which serve criminal offenders that have been identified as having drug or alcohol dependency issues, are specialized court programs designated to assess alcohol and drug-related crimes.
The primary purpose of these specialized courts is to offer a more beneficial and less costly alternative to incarceration for individuals with substance abuse problems.
As of 2015, there are over 3,000 drug courts operating in the United States, over 1,500 of which are specialized for adult cases, and approximately 400 for juveniles.
Additional types of drug courts in operation across the country include:
- federal District
- federal Veterans
Drug court models vary depending on the targeted population, and may also vary in what service resources they offer. However, they generally involve:
- official screenings to assess risks and needs of the individual
- judicial interaction
- rehabilitation or treatment services
- supervision and monitoring to confirm individuals are following through with court-ordered treatment
- sanctions and incentives for graduation from their court-ordered treatment
Court-Ordered Alcohol Treatment Options
There are several different types of treatment that may be mandated by a court for someone with alcohol dependence. They can vary in their intensity and may be chosen by the court based on an assessment of the individual’s needs and likeliness for successful outcomes.
Types Of Court-Mandated Treatment
- Educational Programs
Court-ordered education programs aim to address drinking problems as well as comorbid issues (dual diagnoses) that are often present in those with alcohol dependency. Education programs may be most effective when accompanied by additional treatment such as counseling or psychotherapy.
Educational program options include 10-week and 15-week programs. Eligibility is investigated and evaluated by both the Court Support Services Department (CSSD) and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS).
- Group Counseling
Group counseling is a type of mandated treatment that may be ordered for individuals on an outpatient basis or within an inpatient setting
- Residential Programs
Residential rehab programs, or inpatient treatment, may also be court-ordered for more intensive care and intervention. The length, therapeutic approaches, and structure of these programs depends on the facility. Progress updates of the individual may be regularly required and evaluated by attorneys, judges, or parole/probation officers during the duration of their stay.
- Outpatient Programs
Participation in outpatient programs may be court-mandated for individuals struggling with alcohol abuse. These programs may include services such as individual or group counseling. Unlike inpatient treatment, outpatient programs do not require the patient to stay overnight for treatment.
- Community-Based Programs
The eligibility of an individual to be court-ordered to participate in a community-based program is evaluated through an investigation by the CSSD and DMHAS. An individual is not eligible for a community program if they have either participated in one twice before or have participated in one similar.
Based on their progress throughout the program, an individual may be recommended for further treatment, including residential rehab. Or, if the program has been successfully completed, the person may have their charges dismissed.
How Long Is Court-Ordered Rehab?
Court-ordered rehab varies in duration as well as intensity. Treatment can last from a few weeks (standard practice is at least 30 days) up to 24 months.
Both the type and length of rehabilitation is determined by the court.
How Effective Is Court-Mandated Alcohol Rehab?
Although individual programs themselves can vary in success rates, evidence overwhelmingly shows court-ordered rehab to be effective for individuals with substance abuse problems.
According to a study by the Minnesota DWI Courts, participants in nine DWI/DUI courts were found to be 19 times less likely than those tried in traditional courts to be re-arrested for charges of impaired driving.
Further, data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) shows that mandatory rehab can be just as effective as voluntary treatment. Legal pressure can often serve as a greater motivator due to the high stakes, acting like something of a “wake-up call.”
The motivation of the individuals in treatment ultimately plays a key role in effectiveness. While rehab services can help to increase motivation, individuals who are motivated to change are much more likely to derive long-term benefit from their treatment.
Consequences Of Refusing Court-Ordered Alcohol Rehab
While successful completion of court-ordered rehab results in dropped charges, failing to complete court-ordered rehab results in an individual facing prosecution to the fullest legally permissible extent based on the crime.
Failing to complete the program may result in a harsher sentence from a judge that is often no less than the minimum previously served. However, adjustments may be made by the judge according to what they deem most appropriate under the circumstances.
While there is no one fix-all solution for addiction, and how much a person may be helped by a court-ordered program can vary, treatment mandated by a court can sometimes be the push a person needs to pursue a sober and fulfilling future. Recovery is not an easy journey, but it is possible with the right help in treatment.
Contact us to learn more about court-ordered rehab programs today.
- Bureau of Justice — Drug and Crime Facts
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism — Court-Mandated Treatment for Convicted Drinking Drivers
- National Institute of Justice — Drug Courts
- National Center for DWI Courts (NCDC) — What’s at Stake