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Consequences for Violating Court-Ordered Rehab Treatment

Going to drug rehab isn’t always a voluntary choice for those who enroll. In some cases, individuals may be ordered to enroll in a drug rehab program by a judge as a result of a criminal conviction. It’s called court-ordered drug rehab, and there are serious consequences for those who choose to violate a court-ordered rehab sentence.

Court-Ordered Rehab: The Basics

Court-ordered rehab is a form of alternative sentencing for individuals who have been convicted of a drug-related crime. If an individual is sentenced to drug and alcohol rehab instead of jail, it is because the judge believes the person would be better served with long-term rehab than incarceration. This is often the case for non-violent, first-time offenders, as incarceration is more expensive and less effective.1

Adult drug courts are designed to help criminal offenders reduce relapse and successfully complete court-ordered treatment with monitoring, supervision, incentives, and other support and rehabilitation services.2 Not all criminal offenders are eligible for court-ordered rehab. A person may be eligible if the offense is non-violent, related to alcohol and drug abuse, and/or directly involves the possession or distribution of drugs. A person may also be eligible if they have not previously been treated for substance abuse in the past or they are a first-time offender.

If sentenced to a court-ordered drug rehab program, an individual will be required to enroll in a treatment program, as specified by the courts. This may include outpatient or inpatient drug and alcohol rehab, individual and/or group counseling, 12-step program involvement, or some other form of acceptable treatment.

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What Are the Benefits of Court-Ordered Rehab for Criminal Offenders?

Court-ordered drug rehab can be extremely beneficial for criminal offenders.

  • A safe place to stay sober: It provides these individuals with a safe and supportive place to stay sober while they address the psychological aspects of their addiction and any coexisting disorders, such as depression or PTSD.
  • Peer support: Court-ordered rehab also provides peer support. Clients will go treatment with their peers in recovery and have opportunities to establish new, healthy relationships with other people in recovery.
  • Relapse prevention: It will also provide essential tools for relapse prevention, so criminal offenders are less likely to relapse and end up in prison.
  • Behavioral therapy: Court-ordered rehab challenges “criminal thinking” by combating harmful attitudes and beliefs that support criminal behavior. In rehab, individuals will receive cognitive development training that will help them recognize and modify those harmful attitudes and beliefs to improve behavior, judgment, and decision-making skills.3

Can You Leave Court-Ordered Rehab?

You can technically leave a court-ordered rehab program, but if you choose to do so, the local police will be alerted. Although the staff at the rehab center cannot physically prevent you from leaving, they are legally required to inform the local police. Leaving court-ordered drug rehab early is a crime and by doing so, you are violating a court agreement.

What Happens If You Don’t Go to Court-Ordered Rehab?

If you don’t go to court-ordered rehab, you will be subject to legal consequences determined by a judge which can include immediate incarceration, large fines, and/or increased sentencing time.4 Repeated violations typically receive more severe consequences. The consequences for violating a court-ordered drug rehab sentence will vary and largely depend on several different factors, including:

  • The type of violation
  • The frequency of violations (if there is more than one)
  • The person’s criminal history
  • Time spent in treatment
  • Behavior during treatment

Most often, a violation occurs when a person refuses to enroll in treatment or stops attending treatment before they have completed the required programming, but a person may also violate their sentencing by possessing drugs, selling drugs, or relapsing multiple times.

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Going to Rehab While on Probation

In some cases, rehab may also be a part of probationary sentencing, meaning a person may be ordered to go to rehab while they are on probation. This is often the case if the defendant’s crime was directly influenced by substance abuse. Other related requirements for probation may include behavioral therapy and regular drug testing. In general, these stipulations are designed to decrease the likelihood of further drug-related crimes being committed upon the individual’s release.

Going to rehab while on probation may seem unnecessary, especially to someone who is in denial about their substance abuse problems. However, a parole officer may send someone to rehab or a judge may order it if it is deemed necessary in a court of law. A defendant who is willing to go to rehab on probation and readily enrolls not only shows the judge that he or she is committed to change, but that he or she is also willing to do whatever it takes to stay sober.

Whether a person enrolls in a residential treatment program or IOP on probation, he or she will be required to adhere to the requirements of their probation while in rehab. This means the person must maintain their sobriety, communicate regularly with their probation officer, and enroll in continuing care services like a sober living program or aftercare group if it is deemed necessary.

In some cases, relapse will happen, which is a violation of probation. Consequences of a violation of probation often include criminal fines, revocation of probation, or jail time. However, if the individual on probation is open and honest with his or her probation officer about the relapse and agrees to go to rehab or continue treatment, he or she is much more likely to get back on track, stay committed to the sober lifestyle, and avoid those consequences listed above.

Do You Have to Pay for Court-Ordered Treatment?

Yes. The person who is sentenced to court-ordered treatment is required to pay for it. However, he or she may choose the treatment program they attend.

Does Insurance Cover Court-Ordered Treatment?

Yes, insurance may cover a portion of the cost of treatment or the full cost, depending on the person’s insurance policy. If a person does not have health insurance, some rehab centers may also offer alternative payment options such as third-party healthcare loans or using funds from a Health Savings Account (HSA).

Long-Term Drug Rehab Treatment at Nova

Drug and alcohol rehab at Nova Recovery Center is not your average, cookie-cutter rehab experience. At Nova, we strive to provide a personalized drug rehab program that treats the whole person—not just the addiction. Our treatment teams realize that drug-related criminal behavior is often a result of character deficits and a lack of life skills, not an issue of morality or willpower.

The long-term rehab program at Nova gives each client at least 90 days to address psychological trauma and emotional and behavioral deficits that have contributed to their criminal behavior and addiction. In taking the time to address all aspects of the person’s substance abuse, clients who fully engage in treatment typically experience genuine, personal transformation, and are more likely to sustain their sobriety on a long-term basis.

We also offer a robust IOP program, which is ideal for clients who are on parole or probation. IOP offers high levels of structure and support in treatment while also giving clients the flexibility to attend to other personal responsibilities such as community service, school, or work. IOP at Nova meets three times weekly for an eight-week session. Group therapy sessions primary focus on relapse prevention, life skills, and peer support to address the physical and psychological aspects of addiction and help clients adjust to a lifestyle of sobriety outside of rehab.

At Nova, our admissions team will work with legal counsel to ensure all the necessary information is provided to the courts and any and all legal entities involved. Our Admissions Coordinators also work with the client’s treatment team to provide treatment updates. We will even see the client through into our Addiction Monitoring Program and/or sober living program after rehab to provide ongoing support and encourage long-term success in sobriety.

If you or a loved one has been sentenced to court-ordered rehab, this is a great opportunity to make a permanent change. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about the benefits of our long-term rehab program and our 15-month continuum of care.



    1. http://www.aaap.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/AAAP-FINAL-Criminal-Justice-System-and-SUD-Treatment-Policy-for-merge.pdf
    2. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/238527.pdf
    3. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-abuse-treatment-criminal-justice-populations/principles 
    4. http://www.courts.ca.gov/documents/DefiningDC.pdf
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