February 28, 2007

What we talk about when we're talking before drug court

Here's an inside look at the drug court meeting that takes place before anyone says "all rise," from the point of view of a substance abuse counselor:

This your brain. This is your brain on drug court.

I make a case for allowing my relapsed client an extra week of opt in time, based on her maintaining abstinence. The judge agrees with the stipulation that if she is dirty again, she gets remanded to jail. I am a bit taken back by this. For most of my career doing substance abuse treatment, I have worked from a harm reduction approach. My client is med compliant, trying hard in her out patient program, in CalWorks, stable after a 20+ year history of paranoid schizophrenia, heavy alcohol use, and frequent trips to PES and jail - but this does not matter. If she uses again she goes back to jail. Misguided drug policy, ahoy!

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

There are so many contradictions with drug courts, everywhere. I'm a 52 year old mother and grandmother, married for 34 years. I got involved with drugs after I lost my home to a devastating flood in 2004, as did my daughter. But in October of 2005, I cleaned up and have stayed clean. I cooperated with local drug enforcemnt and have made every attempt to keep my life clean and in order. But today, I find myself locked into a minimum 6 month sentence at Lee Day Report Center in Hancock Co., WV. This after I've been clean for 18 months, after I've severed all ties with former drug connections....this after I realized the enormity of what I'd done, and what I needed to do to straighten out my life. I've been happily clean since October of 2005, but now am forced back into the company of drug addicts, when I've worked so hard to distance myself from that lifestyle. I don't know what the answers are...truly I don't. But I do know that drug court isn't for everyone. It probably could be helpful to a number of people, but I don't see how it helps the individual or society to put someone who is already proven clean into a dug treatment program.