Addiction is complex. Addiction treatment is even more so. John Oliver, the host of Last Week Tonight, provides an intriguing glimpse into some of the complexities of this industry during his May 20, 2018, episode. I recently watched the episode, and even as someone whose work over the past five years has centered on drug treatment courts (including drug treatment), I was shocked. I found it hard to believe that the $34 billion treatment industry, an industry that includes over 14,500 drug treatment facilities in the United States, is effectively unregulated at the federal level with “no federal standards for counseling practices or rehab programs.”
Last year, the annual National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) conference was held in Washington, D.C., in June. The Justice Programs Office presents at the conference every year and we bring many of our resources with us to share with the treatment court field. One of the most popular tools is a thumb drive pre-loaded with a library of digital resources for drug court practitioners. I attended the conference last year as a newly appointed Project Director for the National Drug Court Resource Center, a project funded by Bureau of Justice Assistance, and we had just completed the planning phase for many of the project’s initiatives. During the conference, I came across a dollar that I deemed to be my drug court lucky dollar. I have carried this dollar with me in my phone case over the last year and would like to share the successes we have had since.
I am tasked with surveying women who are participants in a family treatment court. The survey questionnaire is lengthy and may seem daunting in paper form, so I’ve been instructed to administer it in person. I handwrite the answers during hour and a half long interviews. Sometimes the interviews last even longer, depending upon the emotional state of the participant. Aside from reading reports on emerging problem-solving courts, this is my first experience inside a family treatment court. It is 1999, and I am working as a research associate for a study on Manhattan Family Treatment Courts while attending graduate school at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.