Co-Occurring Disorders in Treatment-Based Courts: Results of a National Survey


Roger Peters, Ph.D., University of South Florida, Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, 11301N. Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33612 U.S.A. E-mail:


Drug courts and mental health courts have expanded rapidly in the past several decades to provide more efficient coordination of treatment and supervision of offenders with behavioral health problems. A significant number of offenders in these court-based programs have co-occurring mental and substance use disorders, which predict early termination, relapse, rearrest, and other negative outcomes. A web-based national survey examined programmatic adaptations for co-occurring disorders (CODs) among 54 drug courts, mental health courts, and freestanding COD dockets. COD dockets were smaller and of longer duration, and provided more intensive services than programs situated in drug courts or in mental health courts. However, more similarities than differences were noted across the different types of court-based program. Key adaptations for CODs included extended program duration, highly intensive and integrated treatment, smaller, less formal, and more frequent hearings, and use of specialized supervision teams and dually credentialed staff. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.