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Addressing Co-Occurring Disorders in Problem-Solving Courts

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2021
5 pages

This article describes effective approaches for identifying and treating co-occurring disorders (CODs), such as a co-occurring substance abuse disorder and a mental health disorder, which often is the condition among those appearing in problem-solving courts, such as drug courts.


CODs are present in about 30 to 40 percent of all drug court participants. Problem-solving courts that use comprehensive screening, assessment, and diagnostic instruments for CODs are prepared to obtain the diagnoses needed to match participants to appropriate treatment services. Without such an assessment, the court cannot link participants to the services they need to address the problem behaviors that brought them to court. Screening should be periodically conducted throughout a person’s participation in a specialty court. One section of this article focuses on instruments that identify CODs or criminogenic needs and risk. Online access is provided to the publication “Screening and Assessment of Co-occurring Disorders in the Justice System.” The current article distinguishes between types of screening, assessment, and diagnostic instruments. The titles of instruments for CODs are listed under the categories of screening, assessment, and risk assessment. The concluding section of this article discusses approaches for treating CODs. It notes that the integrated treatment approach has been the most effective approach for both the general population and those involved with the criminal justice system. The integrated approach treats CODs concurrently but with the same staff and within the same organizational setting. The counties with co-occurring disorder courts are listed for the following states: California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, New York, Nevada, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. 9 listed annotated online resources

Date Published: September 1, 2021