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Drug court: Helping drug abusers rehabilitate

If you're facing charges for drug use or for selling drugs, you could be treated in one of two ways. If you were nonviolent, you could be referred to a drug treatment court in Virginia. If you were violent or dangerous, you're more likely to go a traditional route and end up in court with a trial.

In traditional court, you'll face proceedings and be found guilty or innocent of the charges. The court will have limited supervision of your progress after the case is finished, and local treatment programs or parole officers are left to try to help drug offenders recover and be rehabilitated. With traditional court, punishment is used as a deterrent, which doesn't necessarily help someone stop abusing drugs or teach them to manage an addiction. Drug testing is also intermittent and drug relapses are treated as new crimes, not part of the original arrest.

Drug courts can be more helpful for nonviolent offenders, because they work in collaboration with a drug team to help reduce crime and to increase the defendant's sobriety. For example, if you're addicted to prescription medications, you're more likely to get help with detoxification and addiction treatment with a drug treatment court instead of a traditional court's process. The entire process is designed to help you get back on your feet and to be a productive member of society.

In the drug treatment court, treatment is a goal. By treating addicts or users, the court aims to reduce crime and relapse, helping the offenders work back into society instead of going to prison. Frequent drug testing takes place, and relapse is considered to be part of the recovery process.

Source: Virginia's Judicial System, "About Drug Treatment Courts," accessed July 02, 2015

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