; A Proposed Prevention Intervention for Nondrug-Dependent Drug Court Clients
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A Proposed Prevention Intervention for Nondrug-Dependent Drug Court Clients


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									Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly
                                                                               Volume 24, Number 2 • 2010

 A Proposed Prevention Intervention for
 Nondrug-Dependent Drug Court Clients

                                  David DeMatteo, JD, PhD
                                             Drexel University

      A substantial body of research supports the effectiveness of drug courts in terms of reduc-
      ing drug use and criminal recidivism among drug-involved offenders. However, it is unclear
      whether drug courts are appropriate for all clients, most notably the sizeable portion of clients
      who do not have a diagnosable or clinically significant substance use disorder. For these cli-
      ents, drug court treatment may be ineffective or even contraindicated. Instead, best practice
      standards suggest that these clients would benefit from a prevention intervention designed to
      interrupt the acquisition of addictive behaviors. Unfortunately, such interventions have not
      been tested with adult offenders in drug courts. In this article, we describe a platform of cog-
      nitive and behavioral techniques that can potentially be used with nondrug-dependent drug
      court clients.

Keywords: drug courts; prevention; drug abuse; criminal justice

          ver the past 25 years, the criminal justice system has been flooded with increasingly
          larger numbers of drug-involved criminal offenders (Mumola & Karberg, 2006). Given
          the limited success of standard intervention approaches used with this population, such
as imprisonment and mandated substance abuse treatment, the demonstrated success of drug
courts has given the criminal justice system an empirically supported intervention that has since
been widely implemented. In short, a large and growing body of empirical research suggests
that drug courts are outperforming all other strategies that have been used with drug-involved
offenders in terms of reducing criminal recidivism and relapse to drug use (e.g., Government
Accountability Office, 2005; Marlowe, DeMatteo, & Festinger, 2003).
      As drug courts continue to proliferate across the United States, researchers have begun ask-
ing more nuanced and sophisticated questions about the appropriateness of the one-size-fits-
all treatment approach used in most drug court programs. Of note, there is reason to question
whether standard drug court treatment is appropriate for drug court clients who do not have a
diagnosable or clinically significant substance use disorder (Kleiman et al., 2003; see DeMatteo,
Marlowe, & Festinger, 2006). The drug court model assumes that all clients are addicted to drugs,
and the intensive treatment approach is designed for drug-dependent clients who are exhibiting
the clinical symptoms of addiction. Needless to say, this approach may not be clinically appropri-
ate for nondrug-dependent clients. Compounding the problem is the absence of an appropriately
tailored intervention for drug court clients with less severe drug problems.
      The purpose of this article is to describe a prevention intervention designed for drug court
clients who do not have a diagnosable or clinically significant drug use problem. After examin-
ing the nexus between drug use and crime, this article discusses the two competing treatment

104                                                          © 2010 Springer Publishing Company
                                                                              DOI: 10.1891/0889-8391.24.2.104
                                                                          Prevention Intervention   105

approaches that have historically been used with drug-involved criminal offenders. As will be
discussed, both approaches have met with limited success. Next, this ar
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