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What Are Drug Courts?

Concept of Drug Courts

Drug courts incorporate the treatment services of alcohol as well as other drugs with case processing in the justice system. The main aim of such courts is to curb the spread of the abuse of alcohol and other drugs and criminal activities arising from the use of these drugs. Such courts promote the recovery of drug users and addicts through a coordinated response to such offenders (Logan & Link, 2019). The functionality of such institutions relies on the collaboration of members of the judicial system, such as judges and prosecutors, among others. The correction personnel, the pretrial service agencies, and the community. The combined effort of the parties and organizations convinces the offenders to accept professional help.

The justice system has the ability to convince convicted individuals to enroll in treatment services soon after arrest. The convinced individuals have successful experiences just as the ones that volunteer. The courts use treatment processes that involve multiple phases, which include the stabilization phase, where the victim is detoxified and assessed for the kind of treatment that they need. Awareness of the dangers of the drugs they are abusing is given at this point, and they are also screened. The second phase is the intensive treatment phase, where the patient is given counseling individually or as a group of recovering drug users.

Therapy sessions are also offered to help the victim overcome situations that led them to abuse drugs. The last phase is the transition phase which involves social reintegration as they are brought back to society, and the community is convinced that they are changed and should accept them back. In this phase, they are helped to get employment, proper housing, as well as other aftercare services, which will help ensure that they do not go back to their old behaviors.

The process that involves the implementation of such services includes planning carried out by a broad-based group that includes people who represent all aspects of the judicial system. Funding agencies, as well as other policymakers, are involved. The missions of the courts are then defined together with the criteria to be used, and the procedures of how they will operate are formulated. The measures of performance and progress of the patient are also stipulated and agreed upon, then all combined in one document. The goal of the treatment process is to help the patient to abstain from alcohol and the use of substances as well as depict behavior that abides by the law.

Constant communication between the court and treatment providers is maintained. Systematic review processes are made where the patients are brought before the court, and the officials determine whether positive progress is being made or not. The judges in the courts assess the behavior of the patients, both the compliant and non-collaborative ones. Interdisciplinary education is also involved in the treatment process. In this case, therefore, the recovering drug offenders get to understand the values of the treatment process as well as the goals of the justice system. Professional integrity is ensured by the provision of a mechanism of sharing decision-making as the excellent resolution of conflicts among the drug court team.

Trained professionals are usually involved in the screening of the convicted. It is done continuously during the treatment process. It may be scheduled at specific intervals or randomly. It occurs most twice a week during the first few months after enrolling for treatment. After that, the frequency is dependent on the personal progress of an individual. The screening procedure helps in identifying the drug that the offender uses, such as alcohol. Some of the tests include the urinalysis test. One of the principles used in the treatment process is that addiction is a chronic and relapsing condition (Thombs & Osborn, 2019). Decreased substance use is every day before one completely stops using the drug. However, relapsing after the rehabilitation process is expected. In this way, therefore, follow-up measures are essential to ensure that the recovered victim does not go back to their old behavior of abusing alcohol or other drugs.

The Success of Drug Courts

Some of the successes of the court include the curb of criminal activities that are carried out by alcohol and substance users. In this way, therefore, criminal activities have lessened by a more significant percentage (Belenko, 2019). Moreover, school-going children who have dropped out of school due to the use of alcohol and other drugs have been successfully reinstated back to school. Additionally, drug courts have given drug offenders a second chance to live better lives rather than being sentenced to prison (Gibbs et al., 2019). Currently, fewer people are abusing drugs as a result of the establishment of the courts. Additionally, in the case that the recovered users relapse, then a shorter time is used to help them recover.

Moreover, drug courts have significantly helped in reducing the cost that would have been incurred had the offenders been imprisoned. The imprisonment process involves an arrest, booking, court sessions, a jail period, and treatment and probation services. Drug courts reduce most of the costs. The costs, however, depend on the location of the court as well as the amount to be saved compared to the imprisonment procedure.

Effectiveness of the Drug Courts

The concept of drug courts is meant to ensure a justice system in the process of drug treatment services and stop the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. The courts ensure a better method of dealing with people addicted to drugs and provide a better way of developing a comprehensive treatment and rehabilitation program. The effectiveness of a drug court is achieved by the use of essential monitoring and evaluation procedures that measure the achievement of the set goals and gauge its performance. For the effective operation of drug courts, there is a need for the use of a coordinated management system that provides a better understanding of the critical steps to deploy to make the procedures a success. Initial planning and laying out the most appropriate steps to follow ensure a better ending to help a drug complainant. There should be room for modifications in the process, and the courts should be aware of what they are supposed to do in order to provide inherent flexibility and clearly defined program goals.

Since the drug court relies on the judge in the process of monitoring the participation of the defendants, they should be given complete control of the process and make reports based on the performance of the defendants to ensure that there is no failure of the initiated programs. For defendants who are able to successfully complete their programs, the drug case is dismissed according to the ruling of the court. There are various appearances before the drug court judge meant to test for substance use and develop the best treatment for the affected people. Drug courts are known for their ability to ensure that there is extensive supervision and more ways of ensuring justice is administered to the affected people. The goals set by the team that deals with drug issues in those courts have the mandate of describing the measurable terms in order to provide accountability to both policymakers and the funding agencies.

Improving the effectiveness of the drug courts will be essential for ensuring that they achieve all the set goals and objectives. The essence of making sure the existing management and monitoring systems are working well is to ensure that the chances of mistakes will have reduces and that the processes will be achieved timely. The process of ensuring that all the systems in the drug court are working well provides a good way of gathering accurate information about the most appropriate programs to undertake for drug offenders. Drug court managers are able to keep all the activities of the programs on course hence making sure all the appropriate procedural changes are followed as laid by the drug court judges.

The use of the evaluation method in the drug courts provides a better way of addressing all the issues likely to hinder the success of the courts in providing justice for all people affected by a drug crime. The drug courts need a better system of managing data and information gathered from drug offenders for follow-up measures. The success of the drug courts is achieved due to the use of improved data management systems where it is usually easy to follow various drug cases and determine whether the proposed programs were achieved. There should also be process evaluation in the drug courts, and the leaders should focus on coming up with better ways of following up on cases to find the possible solutions made in the final stages. Some drug offenders may choose to evade the set programs and end up failing to comply with what the drug court decided about the case they were involved in. Providing local support is essential for helping all the stakeholders to work together for the success of the drug court system.

The drug courts should focus on periodic education and training of their workers to ensure they gain more skills and knowledge in dealing with drug cases. The need to keep them aware of the various deployment processes is suitable for providing accountability and responsibility in all their operations within the drug courts. Educating the staff makes them be exposed to various methods of dealing with issues that they are likely to come across and develop a better way of addressing them in the proper manner. The workers also develop a shared understanding of the organizational values and goals, critical factors for improving their performance. Judges and other personnel in the drug court system need to know how the laws are applied and develop a better method of applying them in most of their undertakings. Complying and following all the testing and drug treatment methods set by the drug courts provides a better way of serving affected victims in the best way. The role played by the drug courts in society is vital, and hence its representatives should be able to adhere to its operations for its success in diverse environments.


Belenko, S. (2019). The role of drug courts in promoting resistance and recovery: A merging of therapy and accountability. Addiction Research & Theory27(1), 3-15.

Gibbs, B. R., Lytle, R., & Wakefield, W. (2019). Outcome effects on recidivism among drug court participants. Criminal Justice and Behavior46(1), 115-135.

Logan, M. W., & Link, N. W. (2019). Taking stock of drug courts: Do they work? Victims & Offenders14(3), 283-298.

Thombs, D. L., & Osborn, C. J. (2019). Introduction to addictive behaviors.


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