Court-Ordered Rehab Programs

Court-ordered rehab is a type of rehab ordered by a criminal court. Court-ordered rehab provides an alternative to jail.

Questions about treatment?
  • Access to licensed treatment centers
  • Information on treatment plans
  • Financial assistance options
We're available 24/7
Call American Addictions centers help information

Addiction is a disease that can drastically alter one’s brain chemistry, and may increase the risks of one engaging in potentially destructive behavior.1 Some of those decisions can result in a person’s involvement with the criminal justice system, perhaps because of illegal, drug-seeking behaviors or impulsive decisions such as drinking and driving.2 In many states people can be mandated to attend court-ordered treatment for substance abuse at a rehab facility as a result.3 Understanding the nuances of court-ordered rehabs and how to find one in your state can help you begin recovery.  

What Is Court-Ordered Treatment?

Drug courts can be an effective solution to addressing substance use in the criminal justice system.4 These courts were developed to give people with substance use disorders the opportunity for long-term treatment with court supervision, rather than a jail sentence.4 Drug courts acknowledge that addiction is a chronic, medical condition and therefore focus on mandated treatment instead of traditional punishment for some criminal charges.4 In some cases, after completing a drug court program, participants can even have certain criminal offenses dismissed or expunged.4

On the other hand, those who fail to complete the program their case will be processed as it would have been initially, within the criminal justice system.4 Drug courts differ from standard treatment for several reasons. In drug treatment courts, people are mandated to treatment for months or even years to establish and maintain long-term recovery.4 In some cases, participants are connected with community service programs and employment opportunities. They may receive rewards for maintaining their treatment plans but sanctions if they fail to comply with the rules and treatment requirements.4

Benefits of Court-Ordered Rehab Programs?

The benefits of court-ordered rehab are significant because it gets people into treatment and engaged in sustained recovery and reduces the chances of relapse. Many of these people might not ever get into treatment, otherwise. Research indicates that the best addiction treatment outcomes occur with longer durations of treatment.5 Drug courts provide structure, routine, and accountability to participants. Remaining engaged in treatment helps participants learn better coping skills and provides them with ongoing progress assessments. 5

Furthermore, drug courts may reduce recidivism rates by as much as 40%.4 Drug courts are also cost-effective. With long-term program outcomes and reduced recidivism rates, there is a public savings of approximately $6,744 per participant. 4

Reasons for Court-Ordered Drug Treatment

There are a variety of reasons a person may be sent to drug court. For those who are charged or convicted of non-violent crimes and also identified as having a substance use disorder, drug courts offer them the opportunity for treatment, counseling, education, and structure.6

Other reasons for drug court may include:

  • DUI offenses: Some states require a chemical dependency evaluation after a DUI conviction and, based on assessments by clinicians, may require substance abuse treatment.3 Many states mandate some type of treatment and/or monitoring for those with multiple DUI convictions.3
  • Child custody cases: Parental substance abuse is especially relevant in child welfare cases. In contrast to adult drug courts, family drug courts (FDCs) obtain referrals not just from the criminal courts but also from caregivers, parent’s attorneys, social services, or family courts.7 Studies indicate that addressing the needs of the family by the parental completion of FDC, is associated with children spending less time in foster care and higher rates of the reunification of parents and children. 7
  • Condition of probation: In some cases, the criminal justice system can apply legal pressure to ensure that certain offenders participate in drug treatment court as part of the terms of their pretrial release, probation, or parole. 8
  • Employer mandate: Some employers may require treatment for substance use disorders, as a stipulation for an employee returning to work. 9

These programs are typically managed by a team of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, social workers, corrections officers, mental health providers, or other treatment service professionals.6

How Is an Offender Eligible for Court-Ordered Rehab?

Judges will only sentence someone to court-ordered rehab if certain criteria are met. These criteria can vary greatly depending upon the state.  For example, the criteria in the state of Nevada may include:10

  • The crime was nonviolent.
  • The defendant cannot have already attended court-ordered rehab in the past.
  • The offense was a direct result of a drug or alcohol dependence.
  • The individual qualifies for a probationary sentence.
  • The court believes the defendant would benefit from court-ordered alcohol or drug treatment.

How Long Is Court-Ordered Rehab?

The length of stay in court-ordered rehab will vary depending on the severity of a person’s substance use disorder. Research shows that more positive, long-term outcomes are associated with longer treatment durations.5 Rehab facilities may offer programs lasting, 30, 60, or 90 days or longer.5

What Happens if You Don’t Complete Court-Ordered Rehab?

If a person fails to comply with the requirements of court-ordered rehab, they may face the applicable fines and/or prosecution and jail time associated with their original offense.4 Remember that drug courts and mandated rehab are often an alternative to traditional punishment for certain crimes committed by individuals with substance use disorders. However, people are still held accountable for their actions meaning that if a defendant fails to complete the specialty court program, traditional punishment can still apply.

Who Pays for Court-Ordered Rehab

It is the responsibility of the person accepted into drug court to cover the associated costs of mandated treatment and rehab; the courts do not contribute financially. While treatment and rehab can be costly, there are many types of payment options available. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) ensures that mental health and substance use disorders are covered on par with medical and surgical procedures.11 Individual plans and policies will vary but private insurance plans or public insurance such as Medicaid or Medicare are viable options to help pay for rehab. Some treatment centers have sliding fee scales based on a person’s income as well. Loans and scholarships are also other ways to pay for rehab.

Finding Court-Ordered Rehab Centers Near Me

Once a person has been court-ordered to attend rehab, they can choose a suitable facility, but they must coordinate care with the courts and make sure they are attending an approved facility. It’s recommended that one communicate with a court in order to determine a list of appropriate rehab centers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a treatment locator on its website to help people find rehab centers in their area.

American Addiction Centers (AAC) has facilities across the country that may be able to help you meet the requirements of your court-ordered rehab, with treatment navigators ready to help you through the process. Click on the link above or call .