The Canadian Association of Drug Treatment Court Professionals

DTC Facts

That Drug Treatment Courts change lives and improve our communities is evident. We look forward to an exciting future as best and promising practices continue to emerge.

DTC – an option of last resort:

  • As many as 90% of DTC participants have a lengthy history of prior convictions; for example, in one Western Canadian DTC, participants had an average 24 prior convictions.
  • Up to 70% of DTC clients suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, as well as their addiction, with many also having PTSD symptoms, and acute or chronic health needs.
  • In some jurisdictions, up to 95% of participants are unemployed upon entering the program, with 22% of participants reporting criminal activity as their sole source of income.
  • 90% of participants tested on a level of risk inventory (LS/CMI) rated ‘high’ or ‘very high’ risk to reoffend.
  • In some courts, 75% of participants had unsuccessful treatment experiences prior to entering DTC.
  • 86% or more of DTC participants began using drugs before their 18th birthday, with some starting as young as age 12.

DTC is not an easier, softer way:

  • DTCs provide intensive treatment services, case management, and judicial supervision.
  • DTC participants are released with a strict set of bail conditions, which include rules for curfew, living arrangements and limitations on people and places. In many cases, participants are subject to these conditions for a much longer period of time than their sentence would have been if they had not entered the program.
  • Every week, DTC participants are required to attend court for 9-12 months or more.
  • Residential treatment programs can last from 30 days to 6 months; some DTC programs provide 700 hours or more of outpatient treatment.
  • DTC requires participants to provide random urine drug tests at least once or twice per week.
  • To graduate, participants must: have an extended period of abstinence; have no new criminal charges; have stable housing; and be involved in pro-social activity such as employment, education or volunteer work.

DTC reduces substance use and crime:

  • A western Canadian DTC tracked participants for up to 18 months after graduation; over half had remained entirely crime free.
  • Providing criminogenic treatment in DTC helps clients change their criminal thinking patterns and can reduce recidivism by 70%.
  • A DTC in Ontario found that, in that city alone, DTC resulted in an annual reduction of $3 Million spent on drugs. Criminal activity required to support that drug use (goods stolen and/or drugs trafficked) is estimated at another $9M, for a total savings of approximately $12M.
  • One DTC reports frequency of drug use declining from an average of 28.5 days per month to only 0.8 days per month during participation in the program. Another in western Canada found about one-third of DTC participants remained clean and sober for a year or longer in the program.
  • When a comparison was made between one DTC’s participants and court-involved clients of a residential treatment program, 100% of the DTC participants were abstinent at follow-up compared to only 64% of those who had received addiction treatment, without the other supports and supervision of DTC.

DTC improves and saves lives:

  • DTCs help reunite families. Approximately 50% of DTC participants re-establish a connection with supportive family members after entering the program.
  • DTCs providing employment/education preparation services show impressive outcomes of up to 75% of participants moving on to educational or employment activities.
  • At least 61% of participants enter DTC with acute or chronic health issues. At any given time as many as two-thirds of participants in some DTCs may be Hepatitis C positive. These issues are addressed through: onsite health services located in some DTCs; community health care partnerships; and intensive case management.
  • A western Canadian DTC administered Cantril’s Life Ladder – a simple scale measuring clients’ quality of life perceptions – with 1 as the worst, and 10 as the best life. Clients’ satisfaction with their lives overall improved from an average score of 1.8 on admission to 7.8 at graduation.

Prepared by:
CADTCP National Research and Evaluation Institute
James Budd – jbudd@rideauwood.org
Irene Hoffart – synergyresearch@telus.net
Pamela Smith – pamela.smith@uregina.ca
Dr Michael Weinrath – m.weinrath@uwinnipeg.ca
Dr. Cam Wilde – cam.wild@ualberta.ca