Drug and alcohol use disorders and related crimes are at an all-time high in the United States. In fact, in 2020, 40.2 million Americans qualified as having an alcohol use disorder, or nearly 15 million more than just 5 years before. Those increases in substance use disorders result in increases in arrests from substance abuse related crimes, such as driving under the influence – with the Department of Transportation showing a 14% increase in impaired driving related deaths. When you are arrested for a substance-related crime, the goal is often prevention rather than incarceration – and using rehab to resolve the issue rather than jail is one measure that is gaining more and more popularity.
Even if you’re primarily concerned with staying out of jail, attending rehab instead of going to jail could improve your relationship with drugs or alcohol, could give you tools to better cope with both, and could help you to make decisions that are better for your long-term health and well-being. If you or a loved one has been arrested for a drug or alcohol related charge, you may qualify for attending rehab instead of jail. However, that does depend on the nature of the arrest and where you live.
In most cases, qualifying for rehab instead of jail-time is a matter of three factors. The first and most important is that if if you’ve committed a felony that involves violent crime or you have a history of violent crime, you are more likely to be recommended for incarceration rather than rehabilitation. That’s true even if your current arrest is not related to a violent crime. But there are exceptions, especially of you really want help for your addiction.
The second is that most drug courts are more likely to recommend rehab if you are physically and mentally dependent on a drug. Normally, procedure involves assigning a case worker to you. This person will ask questions, determine your state of mental and physical health, and make a recommendation to the court. If you don’t cooperate or don’t appear to have a substance use disorder, the case worker will likely recommend jail. If you do cooperate and you have issues with drugs or alcohol, they are very likely to recommend rehab, especially if it’s your first offense.
If you’ve been arrested for a non-violent crime, you can normally ask to be moved into either drug court or ask the judge or your lawyer to move towards court ordered rehab. In either case, you’ll get roughly the same result. However, availability and process will vary quite a bit and also vary significantly by state.
Court Ordered Rehab – Court ordered rehab is quite simply the process of your judge recommending you into a rehabilitation program instead of into jail. However, it’s not normally an option for someone without a track record of drug or alcohol related crimes. Here, you’re most likely to be recommended into rehab if you have a series of DUI or other similar offenses. In some cases, you may receive a dual option of rehab or jail, but you might also be recommended into jail and rehab.
In this case, rehab will most likely be an outpatient program which you attend under the supervision of a case worker. In this case, if you drop out of the program or don’t attend enough sessions, you will be remanded to jail instead. Often, court ordered rehab also involves a significant assessment by your case worker, which means you’ll have to work with them before, during, and after treatment.
Drug Court – As of 2022, there are more than 3,500 drug courts across the United States, meaning there are multiple per state. These courts exist to facilitate handling non-violent crimes involving substance abuse. If you or a loved one is arrested for a non-violent drug or alcohol-related crime, chances are high you will be remanded into a drug court or can have your lawyer request that you be. These courts normally operate on the basis of using drug and alcohol testing, treatment, and long-term monitoring rather than incarceration.
However, they also require that you waive due process rights and sign a confession before moving into the court. If you do not, you’ll go to a standard court. You’ll also have to commit to attending rehab and follow-up treatment, or you will be moved back into the traditional court system, having already confessed to the crime. Finally, you’ll be monitored for the full duration of the program, which means checkups by a case worker as well as ongoing drug and alcohol tests.
Drug courts are beneficial if you’re highly likely to be found guilty and would like to go to rehab. However, if you are less likely to be found guilty, it’s important to keep in mind that your confession counts as a conviction, and it will be on your permanent record. For this reason, most people prefer to talk to their lawyer before making a choice. However, drug court will help you to get treatment if you are struggling with drug or alcohol abuse.
Drug courts are designed to reduce recidivism or reincarceration rates by helping people deal with the problems behind the crimes they commit. That’s spurred on by data showing that 50% of prison inmates are addicted to drugs and alcohol and, without resources to deal with those problems, simply go on to recommit the same crimes that landed them in prison in the first place. Drug court works to disrupt that cycle by providing treatment and sometimes sober living solutions instead. And, that shows remarkably positive results:
Those decreases are so significant that some studies suggest the U.S. would save $4.8 billion if even 10% of all drug and alcohol related convictions were to result in rehab instead of prison.
Essentially, drug court and using rehab instead of prison sentencing does work. However, the individual has to stay in treatment and has to stay clean. Persons who are addicted to drugs and alcohol are always more likely to commit crimes, both because they are more in need of money and because they have lower impulse control. A good drug court program which uses rehab, sober living, and long-term aftercare is therefore very likely to minimize the risk of future crime, while improving the life of the person receiving the treatment.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for drug or alcohol use, there are options. Here, you can likely ask to move into a drug court, where you’ll have to sign a preemptive confession. Alternatively, you can move into a traditional court and ask for court-ordered rehab if you’re found guilty. In either case, you should talk to your lawyer before making a decision.
Eventually, if you’re struggling with drugs or alcohol, rehab is the right choice. Behavioral therapy, counseling, and long-term support can help you to build the skills you need to cope with stress, emotions, and problems, to manage cravings, and to get your life back on track so you can be happy and healthy without drugs or alcohol. If you want help, choosing drug court will give you the resources you need.
Asana Recovery offers detox, residential, and outpatient addiction treatment services at our center located in Orange County, California. Please contact us today to speak with one of our experienced addiction treatment team if you have any questions about our programs.