Complete Guide to Court Ordered Rehab

Shlomo Hoffman
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Jefferey A. Berman MD, DFASAM
Last Updated
September 11, 2022

Part of the complete guide to understanding addiction

Table of Contents
  1. The Theory Behind Court Ordered Rehab
  2. Qualifying- How to Get Rehab Instead of Jail Time
  3. Does Court Ordered Rehab Work?
  4. Who Pays for Court Ordered Rehab?
  5. Choosing Court Mandated Rehab: What’s Involved?
  6. Failure to Complete Court Ordered Rehab
  7. How Long Is Court Ordered Rehab?
  8. How to Get Court Ordered Rehab for an Addict
  9. How to Approach Court Ordered Rehab
  10. Summary: Court Mandated Substance Abuse Treatment

With addiction numbers increasing every year, countless courtrooms are full of drug or petty-crime charges. Many of those offenders need treatment over jail time. Court ordered rehab is something that can be ordered for a defendant instead of jail time, meaning that the person goes in for treatment instead of spending time in jail. This can happen if a judge believes and a strong case is made that treatment will ultimately benefit the person more than jail would.

The Theory Behind Court Ordered Rehab

Statistics seem to show that jail time is largely ineffective in curbing substance abuse when ordered for drug or alcohol-related crime. Stated by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD), an astounding 95% of inmates will consume alcohol or substances after their release. Approximately 60% to 80% of inmates that are released will go on to commit a drug-related crime.

When ordered into rehab by the court, treatment becomes mandatory. Countless times crimes are committed because the person is under the influence of a drug and that behavior could be curbed through treatment. If an attorney can prove that the crime was committed when judgment was impaired, court ordered rehab could be an effective option. 

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Qualifying- How to Get Rehab Instead of Jail Time

Rehabilitation isn’t the route for everyone, and often people tend to be fearful of going to treatment. A verdict of court mandated treatment means that the defendant met the requirements necessary for drug treatment after a minor crime. So what exactly are the qualifications that would make someone qualified for treatment instead of jail?

  • Addiction to a substance or drug at the time of the crime.
  • The defendant committed the crime as a direct or indirect result of alcohol or drug dependency.
  • Defendant wants to get help or would benefit more from treatment than jail time.
  • The defendant has not committed a violent crime or any previous violent crimes.

While these are just some of the methods behind eligibility, each courtroom and judge will result in a different outcome. If the defendant presents a strong argument, a judge might just agree.

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Does Court Ordered Rehab Work?

While some people query the effectiveness of court mandated rehab, a study conducted by the NIDA in 2006 showed that court-ordered rehab has the same success rate as voluntary rehab. [1] 

The outcome of this study showed that although the group of men who completed court ordered treatment for substance abuse showed lower motivation initially, 5 years later they reported the same rates of abstinence, employment and quality of life. This proves that court ordered drug rehabilitation is as effective as voluntary rehab and is often the best way forward for addicts.

Who Pays for Court Ordered Rehab?

If someone receives a court order for rehab, they will have to pay for the treatment themselves. However, drug abuse costs a lot. It can cost friends, family members, and entire lives. Substance abuse costs a lot of money for both the addicted and your average taxpayer. So although rehab costs are steep, it is cheaper than an addiction in the long run.

Additionally, many treatment centers will take patient insurance to cover the costs of rehabilitation services. The cost of treatment can vary anywhere from $5,000 to $30,000 and will differ depending on the type and length of treatment. You can use our insurance checker to verify if your insurance will cover rehab at Avenues Recovery..

If a halfway house or sober-living facility is suggested after treatment, patients have to pay the cost of rent and other housing bills. Again, many treatment centers accept insurance, and they will often work with you so you can get the treatment you need for a price you can afford.

Choosing Court Mandated Rehab: What’s Involved?

When you agree to enter court ordered treatment, you will have to sign court documents that state you will enter and complete the rehabilitation program determined by the court. You will commit to not use any substances for the duration of your treatment and will submit to drug testing periodically to prove your compliance with the order. Some court mandated substance abuse treatment may have a community-service component that you will have to complete along with the treatment.

Failure to Complete Court Ordered Rehab

If you do not complete treatment, you will have to serve jail time until you can go before another judge. Going to treatment instead of jail is for the defendant’s benefit, so it is worthwhile for people who enter rehab to try to be successful.

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How Long Is Court Ordered Rehab?

A common question asked is “how long is court ordered drug rehab?” 

The answer is that the length of treatment will differ for different individuals depending on their circumstances and the state that they reside in. However, court ordered drug rehabilitation is not usually longer than 60 days. An individual can always choose to extend their rehabilitation treatment or opt for “aftercare” plans to improve chances for maintaining sobriety

How to Get Court Ordered Rehab for an Addict

If a loved one has a substance abuse disorder and you are concerned that they are a threat to their health and that of those around them, you may be able to get a court order for them to attend rehab. 

This depends on the state that the individual resides in, as not all states support this process. Florida is one example where such legislation exists; it is called the Marchman Act. 

If the individual is not willing to attend rehab voluntarily and you want to apply for a court order, you would have to follow the legal process for this. You can read more information online on filing a petition under the Marchman Act [2].

How to Approach Court Ordered Rehab

If you or your attorney requested rehabilitation time in lieu of incarceration, you should be aware of what you are getting yourself into. Treatment will not be like jail, but you will have to work on your addiction and actively participate in your own growth to recovery. Don’t think that going to rehabilitation will be like a vacation; you will have put in effort to do the work, and doctors and staff will know if you are serious about getting help. When court-ordered rehabilitation is set down, what’s the next stage? Here are some steps to successfully complete your court ordered rehab.

– Find a Treatment Center

Start your search on the internet by looking for rehabilitation facilities or treatment centers in your area. If you’re willing to travel and get away from your regular environment, try doing a search for the best rehab facilities in the country. You’ll find many options of care centers that can cater to your specific needs. However, be sure to check with the courts first to make sure you are allowed to leave the state before deciding on a treatment center.

You will also want to check with your insurance company to see what they will cover for treatment. They may not cover the entire bill, but it’s important to know whether or not you will have to pay out of pocket. Insurance companies are becoming much more up to date with helping pay for rehabilitation, so chances are, depending on your coverage and healthcare provider, that insurance could cover most of your treatment expenses.

– Complete Detox

Each program and patient will have diverse detoxification programs. Depending on the amount of substances used and substance type, medical detox might be necessary to ensure your safety and well-being as the drugs or alcohol vacate your system. With any detox, there will be numerous professionals around you who have seen it all, and they will help you through the withdrawal.

Many patients who complete detox often feel like an entirely new person once they are able to rid their bodies of the drugs or substances. You will need to complete some kind of detox in order to continue through a rehabilitation program. Detox is a large reason many addicts are fearful of treatment, but with medical support and guidance, detox can become an eye-opening experience.

– Engage in the Program

One of the worst things you can do to yourself is sabotage the rehabilitation process by refusing to participate and engage. This is a chance to make a new life for yourself, to find a new start. Don’t waste it. Involve yourself in one-on-one therapy or group therapy, and learn from the other patients. You may find that many of their stories are similar to your own and you can find friendship and support [3] among the other patients who are traveling on a similar journey alongside you.

– Fulfill the Court Ordered Rehab Period

The best thing you can do for yourself is to complete the rehab mandated by the court. If you leave early or decide not to participate, it could have serious negative implications in our court case. You will most likely be reprimanded and sentenced to serve the jail time you were originally intended to serve. Rehab is a chance to change the course of your life for the better, so completing it fully is in your best interest.

Summary: Court Mandated Substance Abuse Treatment

Treatment can be scary, and some serial addicts will choose jail over rehab since they know that there is still a way to get their drug of choice. But for other defendants with nowhere to turn for help, court-appointed rehab is a positive way to help them get their lives back on track.

Going to rehabilitation is not meant to be a jail sentence in itself. Rehab can offer you so much more than what you already have, and it can guide you to being a better and healthier person, with a better quality of life. Rehab will provide you with coping techniques, support, and even new opportunities that wouldn’t have existed previously. Sometimes the best things happen in light of bad circumstances, so choose rehabilitation as an opportunity to accept treatment and become a better you.

Read more about substance abuse rehab options on our website.





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