There is debate over the concept of court-ordered rehab as an alternative to jail time for nonviolent drug related offenses. Some believe time at a rehab clinic will help everyone struggling with addiction, while others believe it will only be successful if the person chooses to attend on their own. In order to determine which is a better choice, we must examine the pros and cons of court-ordered rehab.
Firstly, the term “court-ordered” can be a little misleading in some instances, in that it is not actually forced. Sometimes, the court will give an offender the choice between attending rehab and going to jail. Many people will take the rehab option, as this generally seems like a better option than jail. Some of these people may have realized they’ve made a mistake and hit rock bottom by being arrested and sentenced to possible jail time. They now have the option to get the treatment they truly need. Others may simply see it as more comfortable and less restricting than jail—but ultimately could change their minds as they go through the treatment plan.
In some situations, people being arrested for nonviolent drug charges simply didn’t have the means necessary to attend an inpatient rehab program, mostly due to the cost. The cost of treatment isn’t always covered for offenders, however. Sometimes judges will require the offender to pay their own way, but they’re often given options for a long-term payment plan and funding options.
One could argue that it costs the offender more to attend rehab, but in reality prison can be much more expensive. The Department of Health and Human Services performed a study that concluded drug offenders who chose rehab over jail were less likely to be repeat offenders. In addition, the study found prison costs for repeat offenders costs roughly 75 percent more than drug treatment for non-recidivists. So, those taking the choice of rehab over jail are, over a long period of time, saving taxpayers money.
Most importantly, rehab gives the offender a chance to break the dangerous and repetitive cycle of addiction. Many times, addiction is the cause of their criminal behavior, so going through rehab treatment provides a chance for them to explore the reason behind their addiction. If they were to attend jail, they wouldn’t have access to the substance for that period of time, but they would miss out on the therapy and education that rehab offers to prevent relapsing when they go back to their normal lives.
No matter what, we can’t stop every single person from relapsing or making a bad decision that leads them to being arrested. Ultimately, court-ordered rehab can provide the person with a “final chance” of sorts, and perhaps change their lives for the better. It’s possible they could recover from their addiction and no longer have run-ins with the law, as well as save taxpayers money, so why not give them the option?
Dealing with substance abuse and addiction is difficult. Contact Treatment Now for help with any questions.
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