DID YOU KNOW?
20.2 million American adults (about 1 in 10) have a substance use disorder. 43.6 million (about 1 in 5) have a mental health problem. Nearly 8 million of these individuals suffer from co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.
Tragically, people with these disorders are more likely to be incarcerated than treated.
It doesn't have to be this way.
TREATMENT COURTS WORK
Treatment courts are the single most successful intervention in our nation’s history for leading people living with substance use and mental health disorders out of the justice system and into lives of recovery and stability.
Instead of viewing addiction as a moral failing, they view it as a disease. Instead of punishment, they offer treatment. Instead of indifference, they show compassion.
Treatment courts save lives every single day. They employ a holistic approach that goes beyond simply treating substance use disorders. They improve education, employment, housing, and financial stability; promote family reunification; reduce foster care placements; and increase the rate of mothers with substance use disorders delivering fully drug-free babies.
Treatment courts refer more people to treatment than any other intervention in America, and those people are more successful in recovery because they remain in treatment long enough to be successful. The average national completion rate for treatment courts is nearly 60%, approximately two-thirds higher than probation and more than twice the rate of probationers with substance use disorders.
Treatment courts uphold the enduring, absolute value of every human person and embody compassion towards the most vulnerable in our justice system. Reducing the stigma of substance use and mental health disorders has never been more important as our nation battles the opioid epidemic. Leading the way, treatment courts provide access to evidence-based medication-assisted treatment—including buprenorphine, methadone, and naltrexone—to tens of thousands of Americans each year.
Not only are treatment courts effective and humane, they save considerable money for taxpayers. Treatment courts produce benefits of $6,208 per participant, returning up to $27 for every $1 invested.
Treatment courts introduced humanity in a system that has relied on inhumane tactics for far too long, thereby changing our national perspective on what it means to serve justice. The principles of treatment courts have given rise to other incarceration alternatives, diversion programs, and sentencing reforms. In this way, they are the foundation of the current justice system reform movement in the US.
THE FOUNDATION OF JUSTICE REFORM
The war on drugs intensified during the 1980s, placing the justice system on the front lines of the cocaine epidemic. Both justice and treatment professionals began to recognize that not treating substance use and mental health disorders simply perpetuated a vicious cycle of relapse and recidivism.
In 1989, the first drug court launched in Miami-Dade County, Florida, laying the foundation for what is now nearly three decades of justice reform. Treatment courts prove that providing supervision, structure and evidence-based treatment is a far more successful approach to substance use and mental health disorders than punishment.