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Everyday Hassles: Barriers to Recovery in Drug Court

NCJ Number
Journal of Drug Issues Volume: 31 Issue: 1 Dated: Winter 2001 Pages: 233-258
Date Published
26 pages

This research documented the number and nature of the problems identified by clients in the New York State Drug Court (NYSDC) during the course of their participation in the program; identified typologies of recovery, as measured by compliance with the court's requirements; recommended strategies for therapists, case managers, and program managers to increase the likelihood of recovery among program participants; and generated further research questions regarding factors that influenced the ways in which people with chemical dependencies and who were involved in the criminal justice system experienced recovery.


Using narrative observational data collected over 28 months from 104 drug court hearings, the study focused on the relationship between the types of problems participants identified in court and their patterns of compliance with program requirements (e.g., attendance at group therapy sessions and paying for treatment services). These data show that problems most often mentioned in court are associated with the provision of treatment, relationships with family and peers, physical health, the criminal and civil justice systems, and employment. Findings suggest that those who are compliant throughout their tenure in the program ("clear sailers"), as well as those who have some episodes of noncompliant behavior but later show compliance ("late bloomers") are equipped with (or develop during the course of their treatment) certain management and problem-solving strategies that enable them to move through the drug court process more easily than others. This study argues that these recovery tools should be further studied and incorporated into the drug court process to enhance the likelihood of recovery and facilitate program completion. 3 tables, 2 figures, 9 notes, and 27 references

Date Published: January 1, 2001