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Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatment 

Enrolling into a rehab facility isn’t always a personal choice. In some instances, a judge might order a convicted individual to attend rehab. 

Court-ordered rehab is usually given as a condition of parole, probation, or release and may even be given in place of jail time. 

The aim of a court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment is to help offenders change and take up positive lifestyles that no longer put others (and themselves) at risk. 

Unlike voluntary rehab that involves victims and their loved ones, the court usually monitors the progress of offenders given the sentence. 

Failure to attend (and complete) rehab can lead to harsher sentences and even jail time. 

Have you (or a loved one) been ordered to attend court-ordered drug and alcohol rehab but don’t know where to start or what the sentence entails? If so, then you couldn’t be in a better place. 

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at a court-ordered rehab, what it entails, its aims, and the consequences of failing to honor the sentence. 

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What Is Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatment?

A court-ordered rehab is a form of court ruling for people charged with drug-related violations. 

With the overall view of addiction changing in recent years, more and more people with minor alcohol or substance abuse-related demeanors are given friendlier rulings as opposed to incarceration– the aim being to help address drug or alcohol addiction. 

Drug courts are specifically designed to serve the needs of people with substance use disorders. Recent studies indicate that jail time has little to no positive effect on people who commit nonviolent offenses such as DUIs, trespassing, and disorderly behavior. 

What Is The Aim of Court-Ordered Rehab? 

Although alcoholism and drug abuse usually start as casual habits, repeated consumption can lead to issues with the law, especially if allowed to get out of hand. 

Within a couple of months of serious addiction, SUD victims more often than not start to get in trouble with the law, which eventually leads to arrests. 

Unfortunately, as recent statistics indicate, jail time is not always the solution for drug-related, non-violent crimes. 

An alarming 90-95% of inmates resort to drug or alcohol abuse upon release, and even worse, around 60% will go ahead and commit drug-related crimes after release, leading to an endless cycle of release and arrest. 

Court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment is designed to help offenders overcome their drug problems, which the court believes will result in reduced crimes altogether. 

While almost any US court can order rehab for people arrested for drug-related offenses, some jurisdictions have special courts (drug courts) designed to deal with drug offenses exclusively. 

The aim of the criminal justice system and drug courts collectively is to provide meaningful solutions to drug and alcohol abuse-related issues. 

By attending court-mandated rehab, offenders get to treat their drug or alcohol addictions instead of serving jail time, which helps address the issue of drug abuse. 

Reasons for Court-Ordered Rehab

Not every alcohol or drug-related offense will mandate a court-ordered sentence. Let’s take a look at some of the common reasons for court-ordered addiction treatment. 

Child custody

When Child Protective Services is involved in custody cases, there is usually a need for offenders to participate in court-ordered treatment plans in order to regain custody. 

The parent or guardian is usually required to complete treatment and provide regular updates after completing treatment. 

DUI Offenses 

DUI offenses are arguably the most common reasons for court-mandated rehab. A court will usually require the offender to complete addiction treatment and provide regular updates after completing treatment for a driver’s license to be reinstated. 

Condition of Probation 

A defendant with drug and alcohol abuse issues may be required by a court to participate in a rehab program as a requisite for probation. Failure to cooperate with the probation officer or administrator of the rehab will be considered a breach of probation

Criteria that Must Be Met For Court-Ordered Rehab

To be eligible for court-ordered rehab, a defendant must be able to meet several criteria, as explained below. 

Non-violent Crime: Court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment will only be considered if the crime committed when under the influence was non-violent. 

No prior history: It’s also mandatory that the defendant hasn’t attended court-ordered treatment programs before. This means that you (or a loved one) won’t be eligible for the sentence if you’ve attended court-mandated rehab in the past. 

Offense directly linked to drug or alcohol addiction: For a judge to issue a court-ordered rehab sentence, the offense must be linked either directly or, at times, indirectly to alcohol or drugs. 

A better option than jail time: A judge might issue a court-ordered rehab when they feel the defendant will benefit from the rehab as opposed to jail time. If the offense meets the above criteria, then a judge might be inclined to recommend therapy and professional treatment as it will work better than serving time. 

The defendant is eligible for a probationary sentence: You (or a loved one) must qualify for a probationary sentence based on the offense committed. If the offense warrants stiffer sentences, then the judge might not recommend drug and alcohol treatment. 

How Court-Ordered Rehab Works 

A court usually assembles a treatment team once an offender is mandated to attend rehab. On most occasions, the treatment team comprises a judge, attorneys, healthcare providers, therapists, and case managers

The professionals will work side-by-side with the offender to ensure the treatment plan is observed and effective enough. 

All the team members will work together and maintain regular communication from the hearings to therapy, discharge, and even aftercare. 

Once required by law to attend a drug and alcohol treatment program, you (or a loved) one will have to observe the following: 

Attend the rehab consistently: You won’t have an option but to complete your court-ordered treatment lest you receive harsher sentences and even jail time. 

Abstinence from alcohol or drugs: Court-ordered rehab is characterized by several random tests, all of which you’ll need to test negative for the drug in question. You must be fully committed to recovering from the addiction and maintaining sobriety for the court-ordered therapy to remain in effect. 

Regular updates: You’ll need to maintain active communication with the legal team and provide timely updates from the medical team. Failure to make regular updates about your progress can lead to penalties from the judge. 

Complete random drug tests: All offenders required to participate in court-ordered addiction treatment must avail themselves for random drug tests. Negative tests will indicate progress and prove that the program is working as expected. 

Who Pays For Court-Ordered Addiction Treatment?

The sentenced individual is usually expected to foot the resulting rehab bills. The good news, however, is that the choice of rehab lies solely on the defendant, meaning you (or a loved one) will get to choose a facility that best suits your budget. 

Most facilities accept insurance payments, while several are open to Medicaid and Medicare, which can come in handy when looking to reduce the overall cost of treatment. Other facilities offer a sliding scale or payment assistance plans for qualifying persons. 

Since the court allows defendants to choose rehabs that suit their unique preferences, you should consider several factors such as cost, services offered, and amenities

But considering you’ll be required to complete several random drug tests and provide regular updates, it’s best to choose a well-staffed rehab with the friendliest pricing policies. 

What Are The Different Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatments?

The type of treatment mandated by drug courts usually varies depending on the level of SUD and, of course, the type of offense.  

Let’s take a quick look at the treatment options available for an offender mandated to receive addiction treatment by the courts. 


The first step of any drug or alcohol addiction treatment program is usually detox. The process involves the removal of toxins from the patient’s body and might take anything from a couple of days to even a week, depending on the level of addiction. 

Outpatient Treatment 

If the offense wasn’t too serious and initial tests indicate that the addiction isn’t chronic, then an outpatient program might be mandated by the court. 

An outpatient program is usually non-intensive and allows the offender to maintain their home, school, or work responsibilities. 

While this program might appear like the easy option, it can prove tricky as offenders are still exposed to a number of triggers that might lead to cravings. However, outpatient treatment might work if the addiction was mild. 

Inpatient Treatment 

Inpatient treatment is the most recommended type of addiction treatment, especially for people struggling with long-term substance abuse disorder. 

Inpatient rehabs usually treat co-occurring disorders and substance abuse disorders using evidence-based modalities. Patients get to recover in well-regulated settings, ensuring they detach from triggers that lead to cravings and relapses. 

The integration of behavioral therapies with a wide range of experiential therapies like fitness, acupuncture, equine therapy, yoga, art, and music help enhance the effectiveness of treatment. 

How Long Does Court-Ordered Drug and Alcohol Treatment Last?

Although rehab length usually varies from person to person, a court-ordered rehab program usually lasts for 21-28 days but no more than 60 days. However, a judge can opt to extend the program, depending on the offender’s progress. 

Individuals that benefit from the addiction treatment program can choose to proceed with treatment and receive aftercare or any other form of support recommended by their case managers. 

However, it’s important to note that monitoring still continues after an offender completes court-ordered therapy. In the event an offender commits a drug-related offense after completing treatment, appropriate penalties will be imposed by the court. 

After completing the court-mandated rehab, you (or a loved one) will need to make scheduled court appearances and honor meetings with case managers, and take random drug tests when requested. 

Are There Consequences for Violating Court-Ordered Rehab Treatment?

Court-ordered rehab differs from voluntary addiction treatment in a number of ways. Under a court-mandated program, you will be expected to provide regular updates, maintain sobriety and attend all sessions, failure to which can attract penalties. 

The penalties you’ll receive when you violate court-ordered rehab treatment will vary depending on the type of violation, the number of times you’ve committed the violation, your criminal history, and your attitude towards treatment. 

There are no definite penalties or punishments for violating court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment as they’re usually determined by drug court policies, local laws, and of course, the judge’s discretion. 

Some of the penalties may include community service, hefty fines, additional time in rehab, or even jail time in case of severe breaches. 

Is Court-Ordered Rehab Effective?

The effectiveness of a court-ordered rehab largely depends on the individual. While the court will follow up to ensure that there’s no violation of the ruling, the decision to maintain sobriety and take up a new lifestyle solely rests on the individual. 

However, court-ordered rehab has been found to be more effective than incarceration, especially when dealing with non-violent offenses. While jail time will act as punishment for the offense, rehab helps address the underlying issues by treating addiction and any co-occurring disorders.

How Can One Leave Court Ordered Rehab?

The only way to leave a court-ordered rehab is by completing the recommended treatment. Of course, a rehab can’t force you to attend sessions, but failing to honor the ruling can lead to severe consequences such as hefty fines and even incarceration. 

The court usually presents a defendant with sanctions they’ll face in the event they fail to comply with the ruling.  

It’s also worth noting that the court will appoint a probation officer to check in with the rehab regularly. Any reports of violation of the ruling will land you (or a loved one) in legal trouble and consequently activate the sanctions. 

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

Getting Started 

Although court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment might make you feel like your freedom (or that of a loved one) is being taken away, it is usually the best alternative to jail time or heavy fines. 

The good news is that although the court will constantly monitor your progress, you’ll be firmly in control of the facility you enroll in. This means you can choose a rehab that meets your unique treatment needs and, even more importantly, budget. 

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