On recent visits to three drug courts in three different states, the concept of moving away from a traditional cookie-cutter approach to treatment for participants came up. In several conversations, drug court teams discussed the idea of working with participants to identify and better understand their unique needs. From that inquiry and conversation, drug court teams could develop a treatment plan tailored to the participant’s unique individual history, circumstances, and needs.
It’s no secret that substance use disorders are linked to mental health issues. According to SAMHSA, over 7.9 million Americans experience co-morbidity (two or more conditions at a time) with a mental and substance use disorder.[i] Drug courts are designed to bridge the gap between substance use treatment and the criminal justice system, but mental health treatment is often an overlooked link. For participants in drug courts nationwide, between one-quarter and one-half are referred to a mental health treatment provider for a co-occurring mental disorder.[ii] Unless drug courts begin to properly address the mental health of the participants, they will not be resolving all underlying problems that led to criminal justice involvement for people with co-occurring disorders. Continue reading “Addressing Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders in Treatment Courts”
If I’m home at 9:00 a.m. on a weekday, the television is most likely tuned to Judge Mathis. Greg Mathis is humorous, but a no-nonsense judge who oversees small claims cases in Chicago. Don’t tell any lawyer, but I feel like I’ve earned an honorary law degree after watching this show for many years. For many people, television is their only knowledge of the court system. Although entertaining, these shows aren’t an accurate representation of real courtroom proceedings. To learn more about the operations of a court, a treatment court specifically, I visited a docket in a Mid-Atlantic state. Here is what I learned.