Addiction to drugs and alcohol affects all areas of your life. The addiction can lead to poor decision-making, which may include things you would never do sober, such as committing crimes. In some cases, a judge sentences an offender to mandatory addiction treatment instead of jail time, but this type of sentence is not a “get-out-of-jail free” card. Court-ordered rehab comes with a set of eligibility requirements and requires successful completion to satisfy sentencing in the case.
Basics of Court-Ordered Rehab
The goal of court-ordered rehab is to rehabilitate an individual who is addicted to drugs or alcohol to prevent additional crimes in the future. Rehab takes the place of some or all of the jail time or other punishments the individual might otherwise have to serve for committing the crime.
Judges, lawyers, law enforcement personnel and other members of the criminal justice system understand that not all offenders are a threat to society and not everyone needs jail time. While the individual does need help to deal with the alcohol or drug addiction, there is a chance for that person to recover and lead a life that doesn’t involve criminal activity.
The offender must complete the treatment program as specified by the court in order to avoid the jail time, fines and other potential punishments. The treatment itself is similar to any drug or alcohol addiction treatment, but the individual may have additional requirements, such as drug tests.
In some cases, the rehab simply decreases the punishment instead of avoiding it completely. You may still have to pay restitution, for example. You may have a period of probation or be required to continue taking random drug tests even after the conclusion of your treatment.
The specifics of court-mandated treatment vary based on a number of factors, including the jurisdiction, the judge’s discretion and the circumstances surrounding the crime and your drug or alcohol use.
Why Courts Require Legally Mandated Rehab
If you are facing legally mandated rehab, it means you committed a crime related to your substance abuse or because you were under the influence of a substance. Most likely, you wouldn’t have committed the crimes if you weren’t under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A person with no criminal record might suddenly steal or sell drugs to support a drug or alcohol habit, for example. Poor decision-making may cause a person to drive a vehicle under the influence.
A growing addiction to drugs or alcohol causes you to ignore the potential negative outcomes of your actions. You need more of the substance, no matter what the cost. Serving jail time, losing a job, alienating family and friends — the need for drugs and alcohol overpowers those potential consequences.
People, places and situations often become triggers for substance abuse. Once released, you are likely to face those triggers if you reconnect with the people and places associated with your drug or alcohol use. A jail sentence may keep you from abusing drugs or alcohol in the short term, but upon your release, relapse is still a real threat without treatment or other support systems in place.
Mandatory treatment gives you the opportunity to get the assistance you need to address your addiction. You may still face those triggers when you complete the program, but treatment gives you the tools to deal with those situations in a healthy way. It gives you the chance to reclaim your life.
Eligibility Requirements for Alternative Sentencing
Not everyone qualifies to complete addiction treatment in lieu of jail time. While the requirements vary from one jurisdiction to the next, some common factors come into play when deciding if you are eligible. The judge and prosecutor also play a role in deciding whether or not a person receives a sentence for a rehab program instead of jail time, as they must agree to the treatment.
In general, if you meet the following requirements, you may qualify for court-ordered treatment:
- You are addicted to a substance at the time of the crime
- You are a first- or second-time offender
- You commit a non-violent and non-sexual crime
- Your crime is related to drug use or is committed while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- You are willing to complete a treatment as ordered by the court
- You are willing to enter a guilty plea for the crime you committed
- You want to recover from your addiction
Your lawyer may mention treatment as a possible option instead of jail time. If you feel you might qualify and your lawyer does not present therapy as an option, ask about it, especially if you are committed to changing your life.
How Court-Ordered Treatment Happens
When someone commits a crime, that person must go to court to determine guilt or innocence. The court then decides on a punishment, should the offender be found guilty or choose to plead guilty to the crime.
During this process, court-mandated treatment may come up as a suitable option for your case. The decision often occurs in one of two ways. The judge may decide to sentence you to a treatment program if he feels you are a good candidate. Alternatively, your lawyer may work with the prosecutor in your case to negotiate an agreement that involves treatment. Both sides must agree to the treatment option.
The court determines the length of your treatment and the type of treatment. A minimum of 30 days of treatment is standard practice, but the mandated treatment could last up to a year, depending on the circumstances.
Another option in some jurisdictions is to attend adult drug court, an alternative to the conventional criminal court system. These specialized court docket programs focus on a particular segment. As of December 2014, there were 3,057 drug courts in the United States, with 1,540 of those defined as adult drug courts, according to the National Institute of Justice. With so many drug courts available, chances are high you may have this option in your area.
The purpose of drug court is to keep qualified offenders out of the jail system and to increase the success of treatment. According to the National Association for Drug Court Professionals, 75 percent of people who graduate from drug court never get arrested again. The program pulls in several different support services to increase the chances of successful recovery. Examples of charges that qualify for this option include possession of illegal drugs and driving while under the influence.
Participation in drug court is voluntary and often comes with specific requirements and components. Drug courts typically use the following methods and components:
- Screenings to assess your risks and needs
- Monitoring, such as drug testing
- Regular supervision
- Court appearances
- Incentives if you follow the specified plan
- Sanctions if you fail to comply with any part of the drug court plan
- Treatment and rehabilitation
- Graduation upon successful completion
The drug court method pulls in several people to form a team to help you through the process. This team includes judges, lawyers, community corrections personnel, social workers and treatment experts. Families are also involved in the process when possible to create a support network.
Costs Associated With Court-Ordered Rehab
Even though the court orders the treatment, someone still has to cover the cost for the program. In general, when you receive a sentence for legally mandated treatment, you are responsible for paying the bill yourself.
The specific cost of the drug or alcohol addiction treatment varies depending on the specific type of treatment and the selected program. Limited finances are often a problem, especially when funds have been exhausted to support the drug or alcohol addiction, but there are ways to make it possible to pay for the treatment.
Look into these options to make legally mandated treatment more affordable:
- Explore options: In most cases, you get the choice of addiction treatment facilities, as long as your choice is an approved facility based on the court’s requirements. Research multiple treatment facility options to find one with a price range that fits your budget. Some facilities offer special programs, such as a sliding fee scale to reduce the costs or the option to make payments, which make the program more affordable.
- Insurance coverage: If you currently have health insurance, the policy may cover costs associated with the treatment program. Contact your insurance provider to determine the specifics of your policy. Check with treatment facilities you are considering to ensure they accept your insurance plan. JourneyPure Emerald Coast accepts many types of insurance to ease your financial burden during any type of treatment.
- Financial assistance: Some treatment facilities offer financial assistance or special financing plans to make the costs of treatment more affordable. Inquire about the option to make payments. We partner with American HealthCare Lending to offer qualified clients a loan option with affordable monthly payments to spread out the costs of your treatment program.
Effectiveness of Mandatory Treatment
Some addicts pursue treatment on their own, without the influence of outside forces. Others might never seek help if not required to attend treatment. While some people assume an addict must hit “rock bottom” and seek help on their own, many experts believe that the seeds of willingness to recovery can come earlier in the process. Entering a therapy program can make a difference, even if the person is initially reluctant to participate.
The mandatory treatment period requires that you go without the use of drugs or alcohol for an extended period of time. Even if you did not initially want to participate in treatment, working through detox and abstaining from substance use can lead you on a path toward making healthier choices. Successful treatment programs integrate a variety of therapy options personalized to your situation.
The specific requirements to fulfill the court-mandated treatment can also increase the success of the treatment. Examples include routine drug testing or extra monitoring to ensure compliance with the treatment plan. You may be more likely to stick with the program if you know you face random drug testing. The possibility of going to jail for failing to complete the treatment is also a motivator for adherence.
Individuals who attend court-mandated treatment tend to have better attendance rates and stay in treatment longer. Those factors can help improve the effectiveness of treatment. People who stay in treatment for a longer period of time often have better outcomes, whether or not they originally chose to enter treatment.
You have the power to control the outcome if you face mandatory treatment. Some ways to increase the effectiveness of your experience include:
- Maintain a positive attitude: You may not have a choice in attending treatment, but you do have a choice in your attitude toward the process. Approach your treatment with a positive attitude. Remind yourself that you get a second chance to reclaim your life.
- Actively participate in treatment: Instead of fighting the treatment, play an active role in your recovery. That means accepting the treatment plan and completing the tasks asked of you while in the program. Share openly and honestly with the members of your treatment team to get the best possible support and treatment plan. Opening up about your past lets your team guide you toward recovery.
- Get support from loved ones: Call on your support network to help you through your mandatory treatment. You are the only one undergoing treatment, but having your loved ones involved in the process is essential to your success. Treatment programs frequently involve family members in the therapy process. Your friends and family want to see you succeed. Don’t be afraid to reach out to them for support.
- Take advantage of all opportunities in treatment: Embrace all the options for improving your life while in the treatment program. This is your chance to improve your choices and habits to live a healthier life, from your dietary habits to your physical activity levels. Facilities often incorporate experiential therapy to build confidence and teach skills to succeed in long-term recovery. At JourneyPure Emerald Coast, we offer songwriting workshops, expressive art therapy, equine therapy and an adventure ropes course. We also offer spirit medicine and holistic programming in the form of meditation and Kundalini yoga. Once you choose a therapy facility, explore the available opportunities. Try several of the options to get the most out of your treatment experience.
- Continue your treatment and support: The court may only order you to attend treatment for a short period of time, but your recovery is an ongoing process. Maintain the progress you make during treatment by participating in aftercare support activities. JourneyPure Emerald Coast via JourneyPure Coaching offers counseling and support for a year after your treatment in addition to helping you find local support groups and resources. Take advantage of any aftercare services available, and seek additional help as needed after you finish treatment.
Benefits of Court-Ordered Treatment
The primary benefit to you as the offender is the opportunity to avoid jail time. People often make decisions under the influence of drugs or alcohol they wouldn’t normally make. Instead of spending time in jail, this type of sentence gives you a chance to receive treatment for the addiction. That treatment gives you skills to avoid using drugs and alcohol in the future.
A treatment option may also allow you to keep your job, particularly if you attend an outpatient program. When looking for jobs in the future, you won’t have jail time on your record potentially making it difficult to secure employment.
Treatment facilities often involve the whole family in treatment. Working to rebuild your relationships with your family is easier in a treatment setting vs. jail setting. Even if you attend treatment on a residential basis, you can have contact with your family and thus work on mending those relationships. The treatment becomes a healing process for you and your loved ones. Treatment facilities also tend to have more freedoms and a wider variety of activities that serve as part of the treatment.
The crime you committed may be removed from your record upon successful completion of the treatment program. This minimizes the long-term effects of the crime for situations requiring a background check, such as applying for a job or applying to rent a home. Treatment in lieu of jail time essentially lets you wipe the slate clean, giving you a fresh start.
Court-ordered treatment also benefits society by keeping non-violent offenders out of the already crowded criminal justice system. Addiction treatment is often a more effective and cost efficient way to rehabilitate individuals suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues. Taxpayers spend money to keep the offender in jail when treatment could have been more effective in rehabilitating the individual. Sending qualified offenders through drug court instead of jail may save about $13,000 per person served, according to the National Association for Drug Court Professionals.
How to Avoid Court-Ordered Rehab
Going to mandatory rehab may save you from spending time in jail, but you can get help before you get to that point. Instead of waiting until you have to choose between jail or rehab, get the help you need now.
It’s time to seek help if any of the following feelings or actions apply to your drug or alcohol use:
- Alcohol or drugs are constantly on your mind
- You can’t cut back on your substance use even when you try
- You feel like you need drugs or alcohol to have fun, relax, calm down, avoid depression, etc.
- The thought of running out of drugs or alcohol scares you
- Drug or alcohol consumption affects your work or school performance
- Personal relationships are starting to suffer
- You steal drugs or money to support your habit
- You have overdosed or ended up in the hospital due to your drug or alcohol use
- You have been arrested or otherwise found yourself in legal trouble due to substance abuse
- Your loved ones have staged an intervention or raised concerns about your drug or alcohol use
Before you end up in serious legal trouble, reach out for help with your substance abuse. Anyone can become addicted to drugs. Do not feel embarrassed or ashamed to seek help. Your health care provider is a good place to start for either an evaluation or a referral to an addiction specialist.
If you know you are ready for treatment, reach out to a facility that offers tailored treatment based on your specific patterns and other contributing factors. Start the program before you can change your mind. Willingly completing drug addiction treatment can help you before progressing to the point of being sentenced to court-mandated rehab.
If you’re concerned about a loved one, don’t wait until they commit a crime that requires legally forced treatment. Initiate a conversation with your loved one expressing your concern about the drug or alcohol abuse.
Reach out to an intervention specialist or treatment facility for help if your loved one isn’t receptive to your concerns. Staging a formal intervention may be the wake-up call your loved one needs before they reach the stage of being ordered to complete treatment. Have treatment lined up before the intervention to allow them to start immediately.
If you or someone you know is facing a drug or alcohol addiction, contact us at JourneyPure Emerald Coast. We are ready to help you begin your journey toward successful recovery.