Many Western countries have found that there is a direct correlation between alcohol intake and criminal activity. Whether this is an increase in violent crime brought about by intoxicated individuals, or a spike in burglary (it’s not uncommon for alcohol dependent people to fund their addiction through theft), the outcome is the same. Police, court, public time and money are taken up needlessly and frequently by people who might never have entertained committing a criminal offence when they were sober.
Unfortunately, people who offend while under the influence of alcohol are far more likely to reoffend in the future. Quite simply, if someone poses a threat of becoming violent while under the influence of alcohol once, there is a good chance that under similar circumstances, this pattern of behavior will repeat.
Due to this, it makes sense to treat the cause of the behavior while the justice system still has access to the individual – and this is where Court Ordered Alcohol Treatment through alcohol treatment centers comes in.
Unsurprisingly, the US justice system takes alcohol related offences extremely seriously. The most recent data from NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence) shows that just under 80% of convicts use drugs, alcohol or both. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that their offences were committed under the influence of alcohol, it’s often the case that they were committed in order to fund alcohol or drug dependency.
Frighteningly, many different studies have shown that statistically, you are far more likely to be the victim of crime if you are under the influence – and this rate actually increases when it comes to violent crime. This has the effect of pushing up the crime rate in two separate directions – alcohol not only means that the people using it are more likely to offend, but also to be offended against. It is no wonder them that the Courts are at pains to try to cure the cause of the behavior rather than to simply punishing it. It is more beneficial for society to ask ‘what causes alcoholism?’, than continually avoid the situation with pointless prison sentences.
In very basic terms, Court Ordered Alcoholism Treatment is designed to not only help you avoid prison, but also to ensure that having done so, you have a better chance of recovering from both your addiction and your arrest. As previously mentioned, there is a much higher rate of recidivism by people who are still addicted to drugs or alcohol after their sentence is over – it makes sense for both you as an individual and for society to give you the opportunity to get well, rather than to simply send you to prison.
If you are charged with a non-violent crime, you may be offered the opportunity to enter a treatment program. As part of this, your potential sentence will likely be much reduced, and you may even be able to avoid prison altogether. In order to qualify for this, you would need to plead guilty and you may have to appear at a ‘Drug Court’. Unlike an ordinary Court, Drug Courts are made up of a team of professionals which usually include your Defense, the Prosecutor, a Probation Officer and a mental health representative/social worker.
Part of this is aimed at recognizing that alcoholism is not a problem that can be solved by simply incarcerating someone – it is an issue that is more likely to be resolved by lengthy therapy than a lengthy jail term, and that helping you, as an individual, recover your life, your livelihood and your self-esteem is far more beneficial to everyone. A good treatment program will help you to manage the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, and develop coping mechanisms for your future life.
You have probably heard people say that there is no point in trying to get someone to receive treatment for drug or alcohol addiction until they are ready to do so, as forcing them into it will end in failure. To a degree, this is of course true, and it’s something that critics of Court Ordered Alcohol Treatment often point to as a reason to withdraw it. However, ‘Motivational Enhancement Therapy’ is designed to overcome the barriers to treatment that might otherwise result in failure.
Standard, basic drug and alcohol treatment is usually based on a ‘step’ approach. MET, on the other hand, focuses on resolving negative attitudes towards treatment, and hopes to engage the patient into rapid change, guided by internal motivation for recovery.
Encouragingly, the data suggests that this is a particularly useful treatment path for alcohol addiction. It focuses on holistic strategies to curtail alcohol abuse, the setting and fulfilling of goals by the patient and importantly, by acknowledging the changes that the patient has made in their own life.
The signs are happily positive. It might surprise you, but the rate of recovery by people in Court ordered treatment programs are actually almost identical to people who engage in recovery completely voluntarily. Some of this might be down to the fact that there is no early opt out clause in Court ordered treatment, and your progress is likely to be monitored by a urine alcohol test – the fact that it is supervised and monitored by a team of professionals dedicated to ensuring that you are a success story by the end of it means that you are 70% less likely to leave treatment prematurely. This, naturally, leads to a far higher success rate.
In short, far from being a ‘punishment’, Court Ordered Alcohol Treatment is not only a second chance but also a way for you to start your life afresh and a path to a new, healthier, happier you. On completing your treatment, you will be free from the negativity that alcohol abuse can invite into your life. You will be far less likely to be the victim or perpetrator of violent crime; you will have a higher life expectancy and have a new set of tools to allow you to handle life’s stresses and problems in a healthy, positive way.