270193 WeCan! Preliminary outcomes of female opiate offenders participating in a drug court treatment program

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 1:10 PM - 1:30 PM

Kathleen Moore, PhD , Department of Mental Health Law & Policy, University of South Florida, Tampa
Blake Barrett, MSPH , Mental Health Law & Policy, University of South Florida, Tampa
M. Scott Young, PhD , Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
Background: Prescription drug abuse represents a national public health concern. Females are particularly vulnerable to this form of substance abuse and present a unique dilemma for our criminal justice system. This study reports on the preliminary progress of a drug court treatment program for felony female offenders addicted to prescription opiates, Women Empowered to Cope with Addiction to Narcotics (WeCan). Method: Participants completed study measures at baseline, six-month follow-up, and twelve-month follow-up evaluations (n = 120). Study measures included self-reported assessments of participant demographics, frequency of substance use, motivation and readiness for treatment, and therapeutic rapport with treatment providers. Participant criminal justice history was accessed from a local online arrest database with changes in criminal justice activity assessed for the twelve months prior to and the twelve months following admission into the WeCan! program. Results: Participants exhibited statistically significant reductions in self-reported alcohol and illegal drug use and criminal arrests following twelve months in the program. Participants also reported statistically significant increases in their levels of motivation and readiness for treatment from baseline to the six- and twelve-month follow-up evaluations. Participants also reported high levels of therapeutic rapport with their treatment providers. Conclusions: These preliminary findings suggest participation in the WeCan! program is associated with improvements in substance use and criminal justice activity. By diverting female felony opiate offenders from incarceration, innovative programs like WeCan! offer a fundamentally different way of addressing a problem that threatens the public health of communities across the United States.

Learning Areas:
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1)Describe how drug court treatment programs differ from traditional judicial case processing for offenders with substance use disorders. 2)Evaluate preliminary evidence of a drug court treatment program to address participant substance use and criminal recidivism.

Keywords: Criminal Justice, Substance Abuse Treatment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked on the evaluation team of numerous federally-funded grants focusing on the delivery of community-based mental health and substance abuse treatment for persons with behavioral health disorders involved with the criminal justice system.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.