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North Carolina drug treatment courts bring results

Lawmakers in North Carolina saw the writing on the wall and decided that something needed to be done about the substance abuse problems that plague the state's residents. The North Carolina General Assembly tasked the North Carolina Institute of Medicine with putting together task force to examine the substance abuse services that were available in the state.

Their study revealed that more than 50 percent of the criminal cases in the court system involve individuals struggling with alcohol and other drug abuse or addiction. In the year 2008, there were 202,942 charges involving drugs in the criminal court system as well as an additional 72,867 charges for driving while intoxicated.

Those statistics don't reflect the approximate million other criminal cases like breaking and entering, assault and larceny that defendants allegedly committed while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol or committed in order for offenders to fund their addictions.

When the task force presented their recommendations to the General Assembly six years ago, they made the expansion of the adult and family Drug Treatment Courts one of their priority recommendations.

Statistically speaking, three-quarters of the criminal court cases and a large percentage of civil and domestic filings stem from substance abuse issues in one or more of the parties involved. Simply arresting and incarcerating the offenders is not enough to turn the tide of addiction.

While voluntary recovery programs certainly have their place, it is apparent that they are not sufficient to change long-term behavior patterns in all addicts. The coercive abstinence philosophy that is practiced in these DTCs has shown some promising results.

The close and comprehensive supervision and monitoring, along with frequent testing for drug and alcohol use, has substantially reduced the criminal activities of participants in the DTC setting.

Drug Treatment Courts require an unprecedented active partnership between law enforcement, the judiciary, defense and prosecuting attorneys, probation, child protective services, social services and treatment and mental health professionals.

If you are facing criminal charges while struggling to manage your substance abuse issues, ask your North Carolina criminal defense attorney to recommend your case for Drug Treatment Court.

Source: The North Carolina Court System, "Need for the Program" Dec. 06, 2014

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