A DUI conviction sometimes comes with a court order to attend substance abuse counseling. But what kind of counseling will fulfill the requirement? What kind of treatment centers are there? And how can you find one near you? Read on, while we explain the order, your responsibilities and your options. You can get through this. What’s more, if you complete your treatment, you can get your license, and your life back.
Court Ordered Substance Abuse Treatment
The purpose of ordering substance abuse treatment is to help a person convicted of DWI or a drug offense to overcome addiction. This way, the court hopes to prevent future offenses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals agree that court ordered treatment works. Legal pressure motivates offenders to change their behavior, and stick with the changes. They believe that court-ordered intervention prevents future crime and saves lives.
The court may order you to undergo substance abuse education, counseling, or treatment. You may have to attend classes, or recovery group meetings, or addiction treatment at an inpatient or outpatient facility. In addition, you must complete the program the court assigns, in order to get your license back. If the judge assigns treatment instead of jail time, not finishing the treatment program may mean going to jail.
What Kind of Treatment?
A judge has a number of options when it comes to ordering substance abuse treatment. Which one he or she chooses will depend on a number of factors. These factors include state laws, the severity of the crime, and the results of a substance abuse assessment. The assessment consists of an interview with a substance abuse counselor. The purpose of the interview is to determine if addiction played a role in the offense. If it did, then the court may order substance abuse treatment to prevent future offenses.
The first level of treatment is alcohol education, or “DUI school.” This is similar to the traffic school a driver might attend as a result of a moving violation. Like traffic schools, there are many DUI schools. There are even programs you can complete online. BUT you must choose a program that meets the requirements of your state. Topics covered may include anti-drug education, defensive driving, anger management, and other subjects.
Based on your assessment, a judge might also assign counseling. This might take place in a therapist’s office. Or you might be required to attend a recovery group like Alcoholics Anonymous. The judge may specify a number of meetings you’ll have to attend, or a certain length of mandatory treatment time.
A judge may choose more intensive treatment for repeat offenders or for people whose offenses are severe. Severe offenses include felony DUI, a DUI with a blood alcohol content equal to or greater than 0.15, or a DUI that caused injury, death, or property damage. The judge may order inpatient or outpatient treatment and may specify a length of treatment.
If a judge orders you to attend rehab, you will need to find a court-approved program in your area. You will then sign an agreement to complete the treatment. In addition, you will agree to abstain from drugs and alcohol during treatment and to undergo substance testing. If you do not complete treatment, you may go to jail.
Outpatient treatment centers offer a variety of services to help participants overcome addiction, while living at home. These services may include counseling (talk therapy), medication, education, support, and aftercare. Outpatient treatment can be as effective as residential care. In addition, many participants prefer it, as it allows them to carry on with their work and family lives uninterrupted. Outpatient treatment is also quite a bit less expensive that a residential program, and for many, that’s important.
An inpatient treatment center can be helpful for participants who need to detox. However, according to the National Institutes of Health, in the case of alcohol withdrawal, 90 percent of participants can withdraw effectively on an outpatient basis. The advantages of a residential program include medical supervision, quick and easy access to treatment in case of serious complications, and no access to drugs or alcohol. A residential program may also be helpful for participants whose home lives make sobriety difficult.
Which is Better?
According to the NIH, for most participants, both types of treatment centers can be equally effective. However, inpatient treatment is recommended if:
- You have potentially life-threatening withdrawal complications like delirium tremens (DTs).
- Your withdrawal is severe or medically complicated.
- If you suffer from alcoholism-related medical conditions like pancreatitis, GI bleeding, or cirrhosis.
- You are suicidal or homicidal.
- If your home life or job situation may disrupt your recovery.
- You would not be able to travel daily to an outpatient treatment center.
How Long Does Treatment Last?
Treatment times may vary. Common periods of treatment include 30, 60, or 90 days. After that, you may have to commit to 12 to 24 months of aftercare. This may include group meetings or a stay in a sober living community.
Who Pays for Court Ordered Rehab?
Generally, you do. And it’s not cheap. If you have health insurance, check with your provider to see if they cover substance abuse treatment. Health insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act must cover mental health treatment. And that includes treatment for addiction. Some other ways to finance your rehab include:
- Paying out of pocket, from your savings. It’s expensive, but this is an investment in your health, and in your future.
- Personal loans from family or friends. Asking them to give the money directly to the treatment center will reassure them that you’re serious about your treatment. In addition, it will motivate you to maintain your recovery afterward.
- Treatment centers sometimes offer financing for patients. This may also be a good option.
- Look for treatment centers with a sliding scale, based on your ability to pay.
- Low-Cost Treatment Centers. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 24 hour national helpline can refer you to a lower cost treatment center. Call 1-800-662-HELP anytime.
- There are a limited number of free treatment facilities, and there may be one in your area. However, these often have a very long waiting list.
How Can I Find Rehab Centers Near Me?
You might wonder, “How can I find rehabs near me?” It’s not hard.
Start your search with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. You can call their 24-hour national helpline (1-800-662-HELP). In addition, you can use their online treatment centers locator. The locator will show you a map with rehab centers near you, as well as provide contact information for those centers. SAMHSA’s listings include both private and government facilities. In addition, the site will help you find addiction support groups, self-help groups, and mental health providers.
You might also do your own internet search. Rehabs.com has a listing of top rated treatment centers across the United States. Their listings also include customer reviews. You can find a Top Ten list at AddictionCenter.com.
According to the NIH, the success of a treatment program depends more on the participant’s needs and motivation, than on the type of program. So consider what type of addiction treatment centers might work best for you. A small, individually operated program may appeal to some because it offers a more personal atmosphere. Others might prefer a larger rehab chain like American Addiction Centers, which can offer a wide variety of programs and support services.
It’s never easy to admit you need to make changes. But everyone needs to make changes now and then. And if your substance use has led you to a DUI conviction, court-ordered treatment may be the motivation you need to turn your life around. The good news is, help is available. There are many different kinds of treatment centers across the country. And with a little research, you can find the best one to get you started down the road to recovery.
Featured Image CC BY SA 3.0, by Nick Youngson, via Creative Commons Images