If you’ve been arrested for a drug or alcohol related crime, you’re not alone. The National Survey of Drug Use and Health suggests that 18.7 million Americans struggle with substance use disorders. The Adam II study, which involved long-term testing of persons arrested, showed that 43-83% of all arrestees are intoxicated at the time of arrest, with rates varying depending on location, age, and sex. In addition, a 2004 Bureau of Justice study showed that some 17% of prisoners committed crimes they were incarcerated for in an attempt to gain drugs or alcohol. Statistics like these have led to significant changes in how the criminal justice system prosecutes drug and intoxication related offenses, with shifts away from direct incarceration and towards offering remediation and rehabilitation.
If you or a loved one has been arrested, you may have options. Many people qualify for rehabilitation programs rather than jail, and you will likely be offered the option by a judge or your case worker. Choosing a drug rehab program instead of jail is a legally binding agreement, with significant personal responsibility. If you fail, you will likely be expected to attend jail as well.
Why is Rehab an Option Instead of Jail?
This increasingly leads to programs designed to stop the cycle of drug abuse and crime, rather than perpetuate it. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse estimates that some 25% of prisoners are incarcerated because of drug-related crimes including possession, use, trafficking, disorderly conduct, theft, or crime with intent to fund drug purchase.
But, prisons are not rehabilitation centers. Data shows that 75% of released prisoners go back to committing the same crimes. Prisons also often encourage substance abuse, with some 50% of all prisoners meeting criterion for substance use disorder. Research increasingly shows that individuals are committing crimes while under the influence, going to prison, and losing opportunities, becoming more hooked on drugs, and are forced into more crime when leaving prison. Prison and felony records reduce opportunities for employment, education, and housing following release, resulting in worsening life conditions, and a higher likelihood of continuing substance abuse. While many prisons do offer 90-day drug programs through Federal Residential Drug Abuse Programs (RDAP), studies show these are available to less than 10% of prisoners.
At the same time, new data increasingly proves that other methods do work. The Justice Research and Statistics Association show that 75% of persons who are imprisoned are rearrested vs just 57% who attend rehab instead, and reconvictions drop from 65% for former prisoners versus for 42% for those who go through rehab instead. And, most importantly, 51% of former inmates are re-imprisoned within a 12-month period. That drops down to just 31% for persons who attend rehab instead.
So, rehab actively improves people’s lives, which also greatly reduces the financial burden on the criminal justice system. In fact, one study suggests that if 10% of drug and alcohol related crimes resulted in rehab rather than prison, taxpayers would save $4.8 billion each year.
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What are My Options for Rehab Instead of Jail?
Most states now have active programs in place to move drug and alcohol related offenders into rehab programs. These typically include court ordered rehab and drug court.
Court-Ordered Rehab – Court Ordered Rehab is recommended by a judge in the case of multiple DUIs or a proven history of substance-related criminal offenses. You may also request this option through your lawyer or in the courtroom, should your judge fail to offer the sentence. Court ordered rehab is not an option for violent offenders. Court ordered rehab offers you the dual option of “Rehab” or “Jail time”, although the length and duration of each will vary. Most rehab programs include at least 28 days of rehab and may also include some community service or a longer outpatient program spanning as long as 6 months.
What happens if you pick rehab? You’ll be assigned a case worker who will determine if you have a drug or alcohol problem and if it contributed to your criminal behavior. If the case worker determines that you have a substance use disorder (SUD), you will be sent to rehab instead. This is typically followed by mandatory attendance at a 12-Step program like AA.
Drug Court – You may request to attend drug court instead of a regular court, typically through your lawyer. Drug courts handle non-violent substance related crimes. You do not qualify if you have committed a violent crime.
Attending a drug court means:
- Submitting to mandatory drug and alcohol testing
- Waiving due process rights
- Signing a preemptive confession
- Consenting to long-term monitoring over the program
- Attending a drug or alcohol treatment program
Treatment can range from 28 to 90+ days and may be inpatient or outpatient. In some cases, the treatment will occur at a federal corrections center. In others, it will occur through outpatient treatment, where you spend 3-8 hours per day in therapy. Sentencing heavily depends on your condition and your crime.
Drug courts are still a minority option, with just over 2,500 available in the United States. These courts process some 120,000+ people per year, or about 0.01% of all people who qualify (1.5 million). Therefore, you may not get into a drug court, even through direct request. However, drug courts have a 29% rate of re-arrest after the first year of treatment, making them one of the most successful options in rehabilitating individuals.
Qualifying for Rehab Instead of Prison
Most states will actively encourage individuals to attend rehab instead of prison, simply because it’s more successful, cheaper, and eventually better for you. All 50 states have options for drug rehab or outpatient treatment and all 50 states have drug courts.
To qualify you:
- Can’t have committed a violent crime
- Must have a physical dependence on substances
- Must have a history of drug or alcohol related crimes
- Cannot have a history of violent crimes
In most cases, seeking out rehab instead of jail time is an option. The judge may recommend it as a solution. If not, ask for rehab.
What is Court-Ordered Rehab?
Court-ordered rehab typically involves 28-90 days of outpatient care, which uses cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), counseling, group therapy, and typically 12-step groups like AA. In some cases, you may be able to choose your own facility, although your insurance and not the court will typically cover the costs.
While the first goal of many people facing imprisonment is to avoid that imprisonment, seeking rehab instead can be life changing. Drug and alcohol addictions ruin lives, cause health problems, and hurt your friends and family. Seeking out help can help you to learn to live a happy life without substances, to develop coping mechanisms for cravings, and to learn how to live in a way that offers fulfillment. Choosing to go to rehab instead of jail can actually set you free, and that’s the point.
If you have any questions concerning addiction treatment for yourself or a loved one, contact us at Truvida Recovery. Call 877-228-1102 to speak in confidence with an experienced treatment advisor now.