Why do Courts Order 12 Step Programs?

Since the beginning of the “war on drugs”, the number of incarcerations related to drug offenses has increased sharply. In fact, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, nearly half of all inmates are serving time for drug related offenses.

In addition to this, many drug users, who are committing a crime just by using, commit additional crimes to support their habit. This creates an overwhelming and circular system of repeat offenders.

However, the advent of drug courts, that seek to help individuals get sober instead of punishing them, helps break this cycle. One of the most popular treatment programs ordered by drug courts are 12 step programs. There are a few compelling reasons why this is so.

Lower Prison and Jail Rolls

drug court order

Court ordered 12 step programs help people get sober while keeping them out of jail.

Everyone can agree that prisons and jails are overcrowded, and often times the inmates do not receive the help that they need in order to be reformed. This is where drug courts, and court ordered 12 step programs can help. Court ordered drug treatment has been shown to have a number of benefits to the prison system, including:

  • Fewer inmates for drug offenses
  • Less overcrowding in jails and prisons
  • Lower recidivism and escalation rates
  • Lower incidences of drug related offenses
  • Less drug use in jails and prisons

All of these things help the justice system work more efficiently and effectively, which is a benefit to all.

Participation Breeds Sobriety

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health Services, the level of attendance and participation in 12 step programs is directly related to how successful they are in achieving and maintaining sobriety and recovery. Court ordered 12 step programs have a number of benefits, including:

  • Regular meeting attendance
  • Full participation in meetings
  • Progress in working the steps
  • Higher rates of sobriety
  • Lower rates of relapse
  • Better overall health and life skills

These benefits are a large part of why courts turn to 12 step programs. Sobriety and reduced crime are key to a well-functioning society.

Do 12 Step Programs Work?


The goal of any treatment program, and the courts that order them, is long-term recovery. By sustaining sobriety, participants in these programs are far less likely to commit crimes. This helps the individual, the justice system, and society at large. If you or someone you love is facing incarceration because of a substance use disorder, a 12 step program can be just what is needed to avoid jail or prison, and begin the process of recovery. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be sober and healthy, regardless of the things they may have in their past. For more information on 12 step programs in general or court ordered 12 step programs, call us at 1-800-895-1695.

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