U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Drug User Treatment Within a Criminal Justice Context

NCJ Number
Substance Use & Misuse Volume: 37 Issue: 8-10 Dated: June - August 2002 Pages: 985-996
Mike Hough
Date Published
June 2002
12 pages
This paper summarizes what is known, and what is uncertain, about strategies that exploit the coercive potential of the criminal justice system to get problem drug users into treatment for their dependency.
The article considers the links between problem drug use and crime, the characteristics of effective treatment for problem drug users, the effectiveness of coerced treatment, and the practical obstacles in bridging the gap between criminal justice and treatment services. A substantial body of research documents that a wide range of treatment services are efficacious and cost effective. The article asserts the following: (1) maintenance prescribing of both methadone and heroin emerges well in evaluations as a way of reducing illicit opiate use and related offending; (2) pharmaceutical treatment for dependency on cocaine and other stimulants tends to emerge poorly, but other treatments, including counseling and alternative therapies, are efficacious and cost effective; (3) for treatment to be effective, users must be retained in treatment for a minimum of 3 months; (4) the human qualities of drug user treatment staff are an important variable in determining success; and (5) treatment approaches are likely to be most effective when they are delivered in a positive and supportive environment, and when they provide incentives to engage and hold clients in treatment. Figure, table, references