Court-Ordered Drug Rehab May be the Best Way to Kick the Habit
Posted under Drug Rehab on Tuesday, July 27th, 2010
We’ve all seen the headlines and heard the news coverage of this Hollywood celebrity or that Washington politician ordered by the court to complete a drug rehab program. Sometimes these same individuals wind up in court again, and receive a second- or third- court-ordered drug rehab stint. But there are thousands of other individuals, average citizens that find themselves in a similar situation. When it comes to the power of the law, if this is the “sentence” that’s handed down, it may just be the best way for someone to kick the habit.
Treatment Doesn’t Need to Be Voluntary to Be Effective
Some people think, mistakenly, that treatment has to be voluntary in order for it to be effective. While it is true that if a person is highly motivated to overcome his or her addiction prior to entering rehab, treatment has a better chance of success, it’s not always true. How can that be? Let’s look at it for a minute.
Suppose your teenage son or daughter got a DUI or DWI, or was arrested for possession of marijuana or other controlled substances, and the judge ordered him or her complete an alcohol education program and/or drug rehab? Besides being a wake-up call that there’s something seriously wrong going on here, wouldn’t you, as parents, be secretly grateful that the decision to get treatment for your child was brought to the forefront? Of course, you could look at it another way and think that the judge was usurping your parental control, but that’s not the point. You still have a measure of control. You can look into private, non-profit drug or alcohol treatment programs and present those to the judge – in lieu of facilities or programs in their system.
What if the affected person is you or your spouse or partner? If you are the one with the mounting negative consequences of drinking or drug abuse, you most likely are in denial. You surely don’t have a problem. At least, that’s what you tell yourself. Denial, in fact, is the biggest reason why people don’t seek treatment when casual use of alcohol and/or drugs turns into abuse and then dependence. By the time they’re hooked, they’ve completely shielded themselves from the responsibility of their actions. As such, they a) don’t think they have a problem and, b) don’t see any need to get help for their non-existent (in their minds) problem. And, in this example, you are big-time into denial. Court-ordered drug rehab may be just what you need to take action to overcome your dependence.
But if you – or your loved one – doesn’t want or think they need to go into treatment, how can it be effective? While there’s certainly no guarantee that treatment will be successful, that the individual will once and for all give up drinking or drugs, it’s at least a good possibility. That’s true whether or not the person goes voluntarily. It’s what happens during treatment, and how the individual reacts to what he or she learns about addiction, changing behavior, coping with urges and cravings, and practicing skills that make a difference.
Does every person who’s ordered by the court to a drug rehab program come out clean and sober? While it would be great if this were the case, sometimes court-ordered drug rehab doesn’t “take.” This could occur for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the individual never committed to the program to begin with. It could be that the program wasn’t appropriate for the type of addiction the person has, or it didn’t last long enough, or it was perceived as a hardship, or many other reasons.
So, while court-ordered drug rehab isn’t a panacea for a problem with substance abuse or dependence, it may be the impetus a person needs to get started on the road to recovery.
Drug Rehab With or Without Jail Time
Going back to the example of a Hollywood celebrity or Washington politician who appears in court and is ordered by the judge to go to drug rehab, sometimes the ruling includes some period of time in jail as well. In the recent case of Lindsay Lohan, the presiding judge ordered 90 days in jail and 90 days of drug rehab. Similar rulings have come down for many others celebrities over the years.
Granted, some of these high-profile cases result in judges perhaps making an example of the celebrity and handing out stiffer sentences (which often are reduced due to overcrowded jails, reduced time for “good behavior,” or other reasons). That’s probably due to the public backlash over special treatment celebrities had received in the past, whereas the average citizen may have gotten a harsher sentence for the same crime or misdemeanor (DUI/DWI, possession, etc.).
Sometimes drug rehab is ordered and there’s no jail time required. This isn’t a treatise on the rightness or wrongness of sentencing, however. It’s just a fact. Different judges will look at situations differently and, depending on the defense attorney’s ability to plea-bargain or work with the prosecutor, much different rulings can occur for similar cases.
It could be argued that doing jail time would serve as a deterrent to using drugs or alcohol in the future, especially when coupled with court-ordered rehab. It could also be argued that an otherwise upstanding citizen who made a mistake could be traumatized by being incarcerated with hardened criminals, or even come out with more of a penchant for breaking the law by virtue of such association.
Perhaps this is all the more reason for those faced with appearing before the court for an offense related to drug or alcohol use to find out about effective treatment programs before sentencing so they can be presented to the judge as an alternative.
Advantages of a Private Drug or Alcohol Treatment Facility
Not all treatment facilities for drug or alcohol abuse or dependence are equal. The old saying, “You get what you pay for” is certainly true here. Chances are that a person who’s ordered to attend drug rehab and doesn’t have the means to pay will be sent to a facility within the system that may or may not be appropriate for the individual’s particular type of problem. The person may have to wait in jail until a bed is available at one of only a few facilities the system uses. So, while it may be true that if you can’t afford treatment, court-ordered treatment may pick up the tab, at what cost will this be to the individual in terms of expected outcome?
Your chances of an effective drug or alcohol treatment program increase when you attend a program in a private facility. If you have the funds available, this is definitely the way to go. Again, by researching the best facility for your particular problem and presenting it to the judge shows a willingness to work with the court. It will likely result in the judge approving the facility and, although you’ll be forced to pick up the cost of treatment, it’s a much better solution than going to a drug rehab program that may not be appropriate for you.
What to Look For in a Drug Rehab Facility
Let’s say that you’ve decided to be proactive and search for a drug rehab facility on your own before you appear in court with your lawyer. What should you look for? There are actually several considerations that are important:
• Cost – The cheapest facility isn’t the best one. This doesn’t mean that you can’t overcome your drug abuse or dependence by going to the least expensive facility, but the likelihood of the lower-rung (cost-wise) facilities offering multiple modalities, adequate staffing, and additional skills training, vocational assistance, recreational and leisure activities and other services decreases.
When you’re considering the cost of one treatment facility over another, also take into account the facility’s willingness to work with you on a payment program that you can afford. This may be a sliding-scale or ability-to-pay plan or the facility may offer various healthcare financing options that you can take advantage of.
Long-term treatment (beyond 90 days) programs cost more than 30- or 60-day ones. Although the court may order lesser time, you may be better served by looking into a long-term treatment program.
• Treatment Modalities – What types of treatment modalities are offered at the facility? Are there a range of different modalities that are available which may be appropriate?
The most effective treatment facilities use a variety of different behavioral and pharmacological approaches, including detoxification, counseling (individual and group), behavioral modification, medication, support groups, family therapy, and other services.
• Addiction Philosophy – Check into the treatment facility’s philosophy on addiction. Many treatment facilities operate according to a philosophy, based on medical research, that addiction is a progressive disease. Treatment should be tailored to the specific needs of the individual and there should be linkages with all segments of society important to the rehabilitation of the individual. Effective intervention and treatment can help break the cycle of addiction. Long-term support and follow-up are usually required or recommended.
There are also programs with a treatment philosophy geared toward specific audiences, such as women with children, pregnant women, and adolescents that have a less confrontational approach and have been modified from abstinence-based programs.
Some treatment facilities utilize a bio-psycho-social-spiritual approach that emphasizes the harmony of mind-body-spirit in healing. Many rely on, or make strong use of, the 12-step philosophy originated by Alcoholics Anonymous and subsequently adopted by most other 12-step groups (Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Crystal Meth Anonymous, etc.).
Find out what the treatment facility literature and website have to say about their treatment philosophy. This will go a long way toward reassuring you that one facility is more appropriate for you than another.
• Length of Time – What is the length of the treatment program at the facility you’re considering? Short-term treatment programs are 30- to 60-days in length, while long-term programs are 90-days or longer.
If you have multiple addictions or co-occurring substance abuse and a mental health disorder, a longer-term treatment program may be more beneficial.
• Aftercare – Once you leave treatment, this shouldn’t be the end of your involvement with care. See what type of aftercare program or services is available to you, either as part of the overall treatment program or as an extra-cost service.
Aftercare services may include continuing counseling on an individual and/or group basis, help to learn how to stay sober even in the midst of life’s stresses and challenges, and how to transition to effective and long-lasting sobriety, among other services.
• Follow-Up – Inquire what type, if any, follow-up is conducted once you complete treatment. Follow-up options may include community- or family-based recovery support systems.
Follow-up after completion of drug rehab is important – to you, since the treatment facility staff will be in touch with you to ensure your long-term sobriety, and to the treatment facility – in terms of their overall success rate.
• Verifiable Success Rate – Speaking of overall success rate, this is something that should greatly concern you. When you’re searching for a drug or alcohol rehab program to present to the judge, you want to be sure you’re looking at a program from a treatment facility that has a proven track record of effective rehab.
Location May Be Less a Factor
You may find it unusual that location isn’t one of the primary considerations for choosing a drug rehab facility. Why? The simple fact is that, while there may be many drug treatment facilities close to where you live, the one that is the most appropriate for you may be in a different part of the state, a totally different state, or even in another part of the country.
Of course, you need to check with your attorney to make sure that a treatment facility that’s outside the jurisdiction of the court fits with the court-ordered mandate. That being the case, your primary consideration relative to location should be how well the treatment facility meets your particular needs. What you want is a treatment facility that gives you the best chance for a successful rehabilitation – wherever that treatment facility may be located.
Other Considerations for Effective Recovery
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and other organizations, including the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), patients with stable family and work lives succeed far more often than those with fragmented or dysfunctional home and work situations.
There are other important factors which influence a person’s recovery. These include the opportunity for the person to develop life skills, create life structures, and access to constructive communities to support the individual following treatment.
Successful therapy demonstrates the need for programs which help to strengthen the patient’s families, communities, education, housing, and job training.
Look at Court-Ordered Drug Rehab as an Opportunity
You have two options: look at court-ordered drug rehab as an opportunity for you to get your life back, or rail against it and not learn anything from your experience. Sure, being mandated to do something isn’t what most of us want. But if you’re in the position of having to appear before the judge and your attorney tells you that drug rehab is likely to be forced on you, take the initiative and get the most out of this situation as you can.
Look at it this way. When your actions result in consequences, the measure of who you are as an individual is how squarely you face up to them, make the necessary adjustments, learn from your mistakes, and move forward. Maybe, in the end, going into rehab will turn out to be your best – or only way – to kick the habit.