How Do Drug Courts Work? Terminology About Drug Courts in the USA

A Drug Court is a special type of court that is responsible for handling cases involving substance abuse offenders. It is an alternative approach of dealing with drug addicts. In a Drug Court, various service agencies converge and aim for the best possible results—to change the lives of these offenders for the better.

It is a known fact that the road to recovery from addictions is not an easy one. A Drug Court provides these offenders an opportunity to be part of a recovery program instead of having to face jail time.


Candidates for Drug Courts are composed of non-violent offenders. These are individuals apprehended for committing low-level felonies and misdemeanors related to drugs. A Drug Court team will determine if a candidate is appropriate for the program or not.

In order to qualify as a candidate, an individual must have no history with drug sales and should not have been convicted for violent crimes or felonies in the past. The individual should be diagnosed as a drug addict, and should not be on probation.

For a substance-abusing offender, a Drug Court is one of the best options he or she can be given. Candidates who meet all of the requirements imposed by the court will graduate in a state of sobriety. Penalties may be lessened. Their offenses may be reduced, set aside or even dismissed.



Drug Court programs and requirements

Drug Courts have several requirements that must be strictly followed for a course of about a year. In most cases, these requirements include close supervision, treatment services and frequent drug testing. Candidates must regularly make court appearances, as well as consistently attend substance abuse recovery meetings. In line with this, candidates are given immediate incentives and sanctions, depending on their performance.


Due to their effective programs, Drug Courts have helped hundreds and hundreds of offenders take responsibility for their actions. Offenders have turned their lives around and have continued on to become responsible, productive drug-free citizens.

The general public benefits, too. Drug Courts significantly lower recidivism in a particular town or state. Due to the constant monitoring and accountability that occurs, public safety is strengthened, as well.


1. Drug Court team

A Drug Court team is often comprised of a judge, representatives from the Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office and Department of Probation. The team also consists of a caseworker, a treatment specialist for substance abuse and a representative for rehabilitation service.

2. Recidivism

Recidivism is the act of an individual showing repeated instances of undesirable behavior, even after they have been treated or trained to stop such behavior. Recidivism is commonly used for cases of criminal behavior and substance abuse.

This Article is written by Lena Butler, contributor of  Health & Drug Testing Information Center.

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