In a recent study, medication-assisted treatment use didn’t increase the odds of drug court graduation, but social supports and age may be possible factors, found a team of experts from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University.

Begun Center senior research associates Margaret Baughman, PhD, and Krystel Tossone, PhD, and faculty members Mark Singer, PhD, and Daniel J. Flannery, PhD, published these findings in the article “Evaluation of Treatment and Other Factors That Lead to Drug Court Success, Substance Use Reduction, and Mental Health Symptomatology Reduction Over Time” in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.

Drug courts use special dockets to reduce recidivism and drug use among clients, and to keep clients engaged in treatment longer.  One commonly employed method of drug treatment is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) which has been studied in abundance. However, other potential factors contributing to successes within the drug courts have lacked research.

In this study, the researchers aimed to answer four questions:

  1. What are the characteristics of drug court clients from intake to discharge?
  2. How does exposure to violence/trauma at intake contribute to the odds of experiencing mental health symptoms?
  3. How does participating in drug court reduce sexual risk, mental health symptoms, needle/paraphernalia sharing, and substance use over time?
  4. How does MAT, in consideration of other covariates, affect the odds of successful graduation from drug court?

To conduct the study, researchers administered the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) Client Outcome Measures for Discretionary Programs at entry, at 6 months, and at discharge.

Researcher and statistician Krystel Tossone, PhD, noted, “while MAT was not a significant factor in successful drug court completion, clients reported an overall improvement from intake to discharge in reduction of substance use, risky behaviors, and mental health symptoms.” Other factors, including social support, may play a role in drug court graduation.

Read the full study and findings here.

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