How to get out of court ordered rehab?

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How to get out of court ordered rehab? 

In most cases, people try to get out by refusing to enrol in treatment. When you opt-out of a court ordered rehab sentence before the end of the treatment programme, you are in violation of the sentence.  Others stop attending treatment altogether before the completion of the treatment programme.Anyone who wants to get out of court ordered rehab risks steeper criminal charges.

In most cases, court ordered rehabilitation is ordered by a judge due to a criminal conviction. This order is an alternative to immediate incarceration. 

Some violate the court mandated rehab by going back to substance abuse, selling the drugs, or being in possession of drugs. 

There are millions of people in the UK with drug or alcohol abuse. Reports on the substance abuse trend show that for the period ending in March 2020, about 1 in 11 adults aged 16 to 59 years had taken drugs [1].  

Common drugs being abused are Cannabis, Amphetamine, and Anabolic Steroids. The National Statistics Office reports show that alcohol plays a significant role in crime and other violent offenses [2].  

Excessive drinking can lower a person's inhibition. It also impairs judgment and increases the risk of aggressive behaviours. 

Data suggests that binge drinking increases one's risk of committing violent offenses [3]. People with drug or alcohol abuse not only risk their lives but also put others in danger.  

Unfortunately, it is difficult for the addict to see how the addiction harms them. It is hard for persons with drug and alcohol addiction to see the need for substance abuse treatment.

There are instances where the ordered drug rehab becomes the only way for an alcohol or drug addict to attend addiction treatment. 

What is a court-ordered rehab? 

Court ordered rehab is alternative sentencing where a court rules that the alcohol or drug addict attend a rehab programme. Instead of jail time, a court may punish an offender by mandating they attend rehab. 

This sentencing is for those with substance use disorder. When the court determines that a person committed a crime under the influence of a substance, they order the offender to seek treatment.

Instances where a person can get a court ordered rehab are: 

a). The person committed a non-violent crime due to substance use disorders. 

b). The crime is related to alcohol and drug abuse. 

c). The offense directly involves the possession or distribution of drugs. 

d). The offender has no previous criminal record. 

Some people end up committing minor crimes because of substance abuse. Other times, the drugs become the driving force leading the person to engage in illegal activity to get money for the drugs.

Most people who end up in a court ordered rehab programme are regular people. If the crime they committed is not violent, they may be ordered to enter a programme for recovering from alcohol misuse.

For instance, they could attend an online treatment programme with therapy, counselling, and education. 

The aim of court ordered treatment is to rehabilitate the offender. The court does not view the drug related crime as proof that someone is a criminal or morally deficient.  Instead, they view the situation as a consequence of addiction.

To prevent the offender from graduating into more serious crimes, the court ordered drug rehab provides the offender with an option to end substance abuse or face the legal consequences. 

How does court-ordered rehab work? 

There are two ways that court ordered rehab works. 

a). In criminal cases where alcohol or drug addiction contributed to the offense, the offender may get a court order to attend rehab rather than face jail time. 

b). Outside criminal cases, family members can seek an emergency court order for admission to a drug or alcohol rehab. You can get a court ordered rehab by conducting an investigation and gathering evidence that proves the addicted family member risks harming themselves or others. 

Drug and alcohol addiction significantly affects a person's thinking and behaviour. Drug use can lead your loved one to commit a crime that they would not have done in their normal state.

Someone may do something illegal when under the influence of alcohol or drug abuse. Failing to get alcohol or drug may lead to severe withdrawal symptoms that may lead to crime. 

The court believes that incarceration or punishment won't fix the substance abuse problem. Drug use in prison is widespread. Most of the prisoners resume the life of drug and alcohol use immediately when they leave prison.  [5]

Drug addicts who commit relatively minor crimes have a better chance at sober living by attending the court ordered rehab. 

Instead of going to prison, you get a court ordered rehab by agreeing to a screening investigation. Family members can request a screening investigation.

This investigation involves a certified addiction specialist and police officers. The offender will be taken into custody, where officers will determine whether they are a danger to themselves due to the addiction. 

An emergency court order is issued, and a hearing is scheduled once determined that the person is a danger to themselves and others.

The loved ones, the offender, and their lawyer can request a court ordered drug rehabilitation at the hearing. The offender can also plead guilty or not guilty for the offense. 

The offender must meet the following criteria for the court ordered drug rehab: 

a). The offender's crime was nonviolent. 

b). The offense was a direct or indirect result of substance use. 

c). The court believes that alcohol or drug treatment would benefit the offender. 

d). The offender qualifies for probation. 

There are regions where drug-related cases take place at a drug court. Drug courts are an alternative to the normal court system. Drug courts oversee an offender for at least three months and for over a year in some cases.

An offender who successfully completed the drug rehab can get a dismissal or their original charges. Alternatively, they can get their charges reduced [6]. 

Family members can get their loved ones to attend rehab by: 

1. Submit a form to the local court stating reasons why you believe your loved one needs court ordered treatment. 

2. If your loved one meets the criteria for court ordered drug rehab, they will sign up a strict addiction treatment plan to get admitting them to a rehab program. 

It is important to reach out to local authorities to see which criteria must be met to force a loved one to attend addiction treatment. 


Who pays for court-ordered rehab? 

The offender pays for the expense of a court-ordered rehab at a treatment facility. The addict can choose which drug or alcohol treatment centre they would like to attend based on their budget.

There are a variety of drug and alcohol rehab facilities to choose from. You can find a low-cost rehab facility that offers quality treatment options.

Some rehab programs have a sliding payment system which makes it easy to pay for treatment. 

When an offender is ordered to seek addiction treatment, the drug court sets up a treatment team. This team consists of judges, case managers, attorneys, healthcare providers, and therapists.

The team works with the offender to ensure that they complete treatment. 

The team of legal professionals and the health care providers will work together to give the addict a coordinated care experience.

The team maintains communication with the offender, friends, and family throughout the hearings, treatment, and discharge. 

In a court ordered treatment, the offender must complete the following: 

  • Attend the rehabilitation program for as long as the court ordered. 
  • Complete abstinence from drugs/alcohol. 
  • Regularly update court officials on their progress. 
  • Complete random drugs and alcohol tests. 
  • Complete court ordered community service. 

Why is court-ordered rehab crucial for society? 

Court-ordered rehab is crucial for society because it gives the addict a chance to seek addiction treatment. Addiction is a complex illness that disrupts the mind and affects behaviour.

It is only recently that scientists began to understand the serious consequences of addiction in the human body.

Research now shows that many factors contribute to the addiction, from biological, social, genetic, and emotional factors. 

Forced incarceration does not help get to the root of the addiction. Imprisonment does little to motivate criminal offenders with substance abuse to lead a drug-free life.

Once released, the offenders lack the coping skills to overcome an alcohol or drug use. 

A court-ordered rehab helps society by giving offenders a second chance. The court-ordered treatment program consists of various treatment programs such as one-on-one counselling, group counselling, behavioural therapy, detoxification services, and so much more. 

Treatment facilities are also a great place for support groups that will motivate the offender to maintain sobriety. 

Rehab programs impart the addict with coping mechanisms for relapse prevention. Some facilities also offer workshops and education to impart life skills to help the addict earn a living once the treatment ends.

Some of these workshops provide recreational skills to equip the addict with healthy ways to enjoy their leisure. 

In most cases, addiction co-occurs with mental health issues. A court-mandated rehab provides an opportunity to address the mental health issues plus the addiction problem. 

Is court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment effective? 

Contrary to popular belief, court-ordered rehab is just as effective as voluntary rehab.

Some reports show that court-mandated rehab treatment promotes long-term attendance because of the legal pressure and steep consequences enforced by law [7]. 

Another study showed that although active participation was low among addicts forced into treatment, they were more likely to complete inpatient treatment, unlike those who voluntarily went for treatment [8]. 

Still, other studies suggest that mandated treatment is ineffective [9]. Overall, there is limited research on the effectiveness of mandatory alcohol rehab detox in reducing addiction in the long term. 

The evidence available that supports the efficacy of this approach is majorly from short-term studies. 

Other researchers show that the success of the court-mandated approach varies from program to program [10]. Other researchers argue that the success of a treatment program ultimately depends on the individual.

If the person does not want to change, they will not change. The good news is that criminal offenders are coerced into treatment and end up seeing the need to change. 

Consequences for violating court-ordered rehab 

An addict who violates a court mandate to visit a treatment centre is liable to stricter punishment.

A person may violate the court order by selling drugs, possessing drug related paraphernalia, or relapsing multiple times.

Another way an addict breaks a court mandated rehab is by refusing to enrol in treatment or stop attending altogether. 

Consequences for violating court orders vary depending on: 

  • The type of violation 
  • The addict's criminal history. 
  • Time spent in treatment. 
  • Frequency of offending 
  • Behaviour during treatment. 

Typically, repeated violations attract severe consequences, e.g., incarceration. Most criminal offenders opt for private drug or alcohol treatment instead of incarceration.

A violation may result in immediate incarceration, hefty fines, or a longer jail term. The addict may face the full extent of the law in terms of punishment for the crime they committed under the influence. 

If the offender successfully completes the court ordered rehab, the charges may be dropped, or the sentence lowered (depending on the nature of the offence).

In addition, the crime may be removed from the person's record. Court ordered rehab gives the addict a chance to regain a crime-free life. 

Duration of court ordered rehab

The court ordered rehab usually takes 60 days at most. However, there are cases where the court may extend the duration. This may happen if the experts report little improvement from the addict.

Once the individual completes rehab, it is up to them to decide whether they want to stay or opt-out.  

Some people may choose to stay because of the support they receive while in the rehab facility. Others may continue with the aftercare services provided.

The treatment team is allowed to offer their recommendations on whether your treatment should be extended. 

Court ordered rehab is a chance 

Court ordered rehab is a wake-up call. Some people are in denial about their addiction until they find themselves face to face with the law.

There is no guarantee of a successful outcome. Still, rehab is a chance for your loved ones to realize how addiction has harmed them and work with experts to bring about positive change in their lives. 

The success of a court ordered rehab lies in the motivation and commitment of the addict. What a court ordered recovery does is that it puts the addict in a situation where they have to face the addiction issue.

Rehab is a critical phase and a chance for the addict to get on a path to recovery. 

Abbeycare Pricing Bot

About the author

Laura Morris

Laura Morris is an experienced clinical practitioner and CQC Registered Manager with over twenty years experience, over ten of which have been as an Independent Nurse Prescriber.

She has held a number of senior leadership roles in the substance use and mental health sector in the NHS, the prison service and in leading social enterprises in the field.

Last Updated: November 22, 2023