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What Is Court-Ordered Rehab, and How Does it Work?

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Guide To Court-Ordered Rehab for Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment

Besides the effect on well-studied health issues, alcohol and/or drug addiction can alter people’s behavior in an undesirable way. Under the sway of substance abuse, people may react compulsively and commit offenses that may put them in legal trouble. In such circumstances, courts frequently decide to put the offenders under a regime of rehab aimed at clearing their addiction and restoring their rational capabilities.1

The statistics are unequivocal in such cases. Studies show that around 85 percent of prison inmates either committed crimes under the influence of substance abuse or suffer from addiction.2 The crimes that are most commonly perpetrated under the influence of addiction involve domestic violence, property crimes, and driving offenses. Moreover, it is reported that nearly 60 percent of incoming inmates test positive for drugs, while 20 percent of them committed a crime with the purpose of obtaining money for drugs.1

What Is Court-Ordered Rehab?

Court ordered rehab is mainly perceived as a measure aimed at people who have committed criminal acts under the influence of addiction, or are at risk of doing so. These people are perceived as being unable to control their behavior due to misuse of drugs and/or alcohol. At court ordered rehab centers they are commonly put in instead of typical prisons, offenders undergo a procedure that usually involves segments of the most strict detoxication treatments, such as extensive use of medication.3 

The goal of court ordered rehab treatment is to improve the long-term health of people suffering from addiction. At the same time, these types of treatment aim to prevent further criminal activities of these people. The ultimate goal of a typical court ordered treatment is to offer resocialization of the wrongdoers as competent members of society.4

Why Are Court Ordered Rehab Treatments Mandated?

A court ordered treatment could be mandated for several reasons. One of them is related to child custody. It is commonly the case that people who are suffering from drug or alcohol addiction are unable to properly take care of their children. In these cases, children might be at risk of being neglected or even harmed by their parents. To prevent such outcomes, courts usually decide to send the parents to rehab treatments.5

Another reason why people might be referred to court ordered rehab treatments are driving under the influence (DUI) offenses. In order to prevent traffic accidents in the future, offenders who are caught with positive drugs and/or alcohol levels in their bodies are sent to court ordered rehab centers.6

People suffering from drug or alcohol addiction might be ordered to attend rehab treatment if being free from an addictive substance is mandated by their employer’s policy. Such a mandate is not unusual given that most employers prefer their employees to be productive, which could be hampered by substance abuse.7

Finally, a court ordered rehab treatment might constitute a part of probation conditions set upon a defendant. This means that, for individual charges to be dismissed, a defendant might have to complete a treatment that would clear them from toxic substances that might have contributed to the wrongdoing.8

How Does a Court Ordered Treatment Function?

The first step in getting an offender admitted to a court ordered inpatient treatment is to get them checked by professionals. This procedure is commonly called ‘screening investigation’ and is performed by numerous specialists, ranging from police officers to doctors. If professionals find the offender suitable for treatment, they issue an order calling for an emergency court hearing. At the hearing, the offender’s family members or attorney could request that the offender is transferred to court ordered rehab. It is the judge who then has the final say on the issue.1

In the rehab center, the person undergoes treatment. In addition to medically administered detoxification, several treatment modalities may take place. Court ordered rehab attendee might participate in group therapy sessions, intended to achieve recovery by encouraging conversations among people with similar issues. They might also take part in faith-based therapy founded upon a 12-step approach or some other sort of spiritual therapy. Attendees may even be introduced to highly popular cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or even in some of the sessions associated with psychological interventions. It is expected from court ordered rehab participants to engage in their outpatient treatment and self-help activities once they finish their main therapy sessions. This part is crucial in order to prevent relapse and other negative consequences associated with it.9

What Are the Benefits of a Court Ordered Treatment?

Even though it might not seem so, court ordered rehab programs are quite effective against substance use disorders. An evaluation of multiple drug courts, performed by the National Institute of Justice, found that 40 percent of offenders who took part in court ordered rehab programs engaged in criminal activities, as opposed to 53 percent of offenders suffering from drug addiction who did not attend such programs and who also committed crimes. Similarly, 56 percent of court ordered rehab participants used drugs following their treatment. This figure is significantly smaller than a 76 percent relapse ratio among comparable individuals who did not attend rehab programs.10

These benefits are mostly achieved owing to several features of court ordered rehab programs. One of them is the learning of effective coping mechanisms. These are critical for a successful confrontation with one’s undesirable urges. Alongside them is the structured environment, aimed at helping the program attendee stay on the right course. Finally, there are frequent progress assessments. Regular testing helps attendees check where they are and stay motivated until they complete the program.9 11

What is the Duration of a Court Ordered Rehab Program?

The length of a court ordered substance abuse treatment may vary, but is usually not as short as it might be the case with other rehab programs. Some programs may last for around a month, while others may take two or even more months.9 11 In special circumstances, the judge may decide to prolong the treatment. Even program attendees themselves may opt to continue their treatment if they find it useful. In any case, program participants are encouraged to opt for aftercare treatment once they complete the main program. They are also advised to pay close attention to their activities and stay aware of their court ordered treatment plan to prevent relapse.11

What Services Are Available After Court Ordered Inpatient Treatment Is Over?

In order to ensure long-term recovery, court ordered rehab program attendee has to be followed for some time after the intensive treatment is over. Aftercare treatment, which is the main part of the attendee’s follow-up, mostly consists of therapy sessions occurring on an outpatient basis. Some studies have confirmed that people who receive aftercare treatment have much less chance of experiencing relapse compared to people who did not get such a treatment.12

To ensure their adequate resocialization, many additional services are commonly offered to court ordered rehab program participants. These include various social group activities, as well as services concerning education, housing, and employment.11 

What Criteria Do Courts Use to Decide on Sending Someone to a Court Ordered Treatment?

Drug or alcohol-involved offenders could not be sent to court ordered rehab centers without a court decision. To decide whether any particular person could be admitted to a rehab, judges commonly use several criteria. The first of them involves the examination of the offender’s criminal history. Someone who previously attended any sort of court ordered rehab could not be sent on a similar type of program again. What is also taken into account is whether there are any additional current charges against the offender.1 13

Particular attention is being paid to the circumstances of the offense in question. Courts, for example, review to what extent the crime was a result of the direct or indirect influence of substance abuse. The level of violence involved in a crime is examined as well. Finally, it is reviewed whether rules permit the offender to apply for a probationary sentence.1 13

What Happens If Someone Violates a Court Ordered Treatment?

A violation of court orders surrounding the court ordered rehab procedure might involve significant consequences. Possible consequences range from mild sanctions, such as fines or community service, to harsher ones, such as imprisonment or the prolongation of the time required to complete the court ordered rehab program.14

What presents a violation of court ordered treatment rules depends on the specific regulations of each court and its associated rehab center. In practice, these violations usually entail undisciplined testing for addictive substances, not being punctual for the treatment sessions, not coming to the sessions, or even backsliding into substance abuse. When deciding on a sanction, courts usually take several considerations into account, including the severity of the violation, the number of times the violation occurred, the offender’s criminal history, as well as how long has the offender been at the treatment, and how they behaved on it so far.14

Who Has to Pay for a Court Ordered Addiction Treatment?

It must be noted that courts typically do not pay for any costs associated with court ordered rehab programs. It is up to the offender and his family members (or loved ones) to pay for both the costs of the court ordered treatment itself and any financial arrangements required to complete the treatment. Only in extremely rare circumstances can a court waive some of the rehab program participant’s fees.1 8

The good news is that the defendant or his loved ones can usually select among different rehab centers. They can spare themselves from significant costs by choosing an affordable rehab program (such as one of the state-funded rehabs) or even opting for one that offers benefits such as sliding payment.15

If one is unsure about which options are available, they can check with their private insurance provider or even with federal insurance agencies such as Medicare or Medicaid. They can also consult our American Addiction Centers (AAC) navigators to check if certain insurance providers that offer court ordered treatment belong to our network.15 16

Are There Any Court Ordered Rehab Centers Near Me?

If you are being instructed to attend a court ordered rehab program or you know someone facing it, you can visit any of AAC’s facilities to fulfill your or your loved one’s legal requirements. Our team is ready to welcome you and offer you the best service in finding the right treatment with as little disturbance as possible.15

You can also call our fully confidential helpline to get informed about rehab centers in your proximity. AAC is known as a leading provider of rehab services across the country. It covers centers at a whole host of locations, including Las Vegas, Nevada, and many others.15 Besides that, AAC also offers rehab services for a wide range of demographic groups. Some of the groups covered by AAC include war veterans and LGBTQ people.17 18 It also arranges rehab treatments for men only, as well as couples therapies aimed at solving relationship issues.19 20 At some of these treatments, it is also possible to arrange same-day admittance.21

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Drug Courts?

Drug courts could be defined as specialized courts dealing with the cases of criminal offenders who are identified as having issues with drug or alcohol addiction. As such, these courts usually have a separate procedure that involves detailed screening investigations of defendants’ addictions. To achieve their aim, these courts usually employ personnel from multiple fields, ranging from law to medicine.10

Is Court Ordered Addiction Treatment Effective?

Studies have identified the significant effectiveness of court ordered rehab programs. Compared to offenders who have suffered from addiction but did not attend such a program, the court ordered rehab program participants showed a 13 percent lower level of criminal recidivism and an astonishing 20 percent lower level of addiction recidivism.10 22 The effectiveness is reportedly even higher if the court ordered addiction treatment is followed by aftercare activities.12

Can One Be Coerced to Stay in a Court Ordered Rehab Program?

Attending a court ordered addiction treatment is mandatory if a drug-involved offender is willing to avoid imprisonment for their criminal activities. The offender might even get to be checked by a probation officer who will monitor if the rehab rules are violated. If the violation occurs, certain sanctions for the offender might ensue.22

How Can One Find a Court Ordered Rehab Center in California?

As in the case of any other location, anyone interested in finding a court ordered rehab treatment in California can visit the nearest AAC facility or call our helpline. Our navigators will be happy to help in finding the best rehab treatment for everyone.15