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Alternative Sentencing in Addiction Treatment

Alternative Sentencing in Addiction Treatment

Developing an addiction to drugs can often mean getting involved in crime, such as stealing from others or selling drugs to support your growing habit.

Drug and alcohol addiction has been known to drive people to steal, lie, and commit crimes, spinning them out in a vicious cycle, and even allowing them to dismiss the fear of going to jail, alienating their loved ones and losing their job. Without the necessary treatment, breaking the cycle of drug addiction, crime, and incarceration can be extremely difficult. Even after being imprisoned and then released back into society, many individuals will experience the same problem that got them locked up to begin with.

Alternative sentencing is when drug offenders are diverted to treatment rather than incarceration, where their drug addiction would probably go untreated. Judges often offer alternative sentences to non-violent drug offenders in an effort to provide an opportunity for recovery and a new beginning. The aim of these sentences is to help addicts truly recover and not end up in the criminal justice system time after time. Innovative recovery programs such as Genesis Recovery offer specially-created treatment programs that satisfy the legal demands of the court while providing addicts with the resources essential for sobriety.

How Alternative Sentencing Works

When someone is arrested for a drug-related crime, such as possession, they might be sentenced to a recovery program instead of jail. When this occurs, the treatment is mandatory and the addict is required to complete the entire treatment program and even partake in regular drug testing. If the addict leaves or does not finish treatment, they risk being taken back into custody and going to jail.

Court-approved recovery programs appoint a doctor to assess the addict and create a custom treatment plan. Court-approved treatment can include:

  • individualized, private therapy, medically supervised detox
  • group counseling sessions
  • coping skill development
  • education about addiction
  • 12-step programs
  • holistic and emotional support

These treatment programs can be short or long-term, taking anywhere from one month to over a year to complete, usually depending on how severe the addiction and the sentence are. If your treatment team thinks you can overcome the addiction in an outpatient setting, then an outpatient treatment center is also an option. If the addiction is more severe, it may be recommended that you spend time at a private inpatient rehabilitation facility like Genesis Recovery.

Qualifying for Alternative Sentencing

To be a candidate for treatment instead of incarceration, you must:

  • have committed a nonviolent crime such as drug possession or dealing
  • have no criminal record
  • show that you can benefit from rehab
  • complete a mental health evaluation
  • demonstrate your dedication to recovery and living a drug-free lifestyle

Alternative sentencing requires commitment on behalf of the addict in order to successfully complete the program. The guidelines may also specify a period of probation and regular drug tests. An individual's daily schedule sometimes includes meetings with a designated mental health professional or addiction counselor.

Sometimes you might not be presented with the option for alternative sentencing. In that case, it is appropriate to ask the court official or lawyer whether a drug treatment program is available to you. Taking that first step indicates that you are motivated to pursue treatment and avoid future crimes.

Benefits of Treatment Over Prison

Alternative sentencing recognizes that drug addiction can turn the best of people into criminals, and provides addicts with the hope of recovery and building a meaningful and productive life. For many drug offenders, alternative sentencing allows for their first real chance to undergo medically supervised rehab. Furthermore, the likelihood of reoffending under alternative sentencing is employed is significantly less. Jail can have severe negative effects on the individual, including difficulty finding employment, financial difficulty, emotional trauma, alienation from the larger community, and difficulty transitioning into the environment upon release. Alternative sentencing allows offenders to remain in the community, spend time with their loved ones, and play a part in society.

In addition to benefiting the individual, alternative sentencing offers advantages for the community. Alternative sentencing programs cost less than prison and can save the state up to $58,816 per offender. A 2006 UK study indicated that "every dollar spent treating a drug user can save another 10 over the following two years by reducing crime and its costs." A Research Triangle Institute study in New York found that when 150 offenders were diverted to a drug treatment program instead of jail, the state saved over $7 million. Other advantages include diverting nonviolent offenders and only using prison space for truly dangerous criminals.

Finding the Best Court-Approved Recovery Programs

Research shows that treatment can succeed in reducing drug use and criminal activity. Addicts in a treatment setting have the chance to improve their self-esteem and find purpose, instead of being sent to jail where they can be exposed to more substance abuse and criminal patterns. Alternative sentencing can help both the offender and the community by treating the causes of addiction rather than simply giving out punishments. Alternative sentencing gives the addict a better chance for long-term recovery, building a stronger family and community, and finding a better quality of life.

Genesis Recovery is a preferred facility because it is able to treat men long-term while communicating with probation officers and courts, as well as facilitating escorts to these appointments. Treatment here is much more than a chance to avoid or reduce jail timeā€”it is an opportunity to begin anew.

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