According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70,630 people died from a drug overdose in the United States in 2019, with opioids involved in almost 50,000 of those deaths. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health also revealed that 20.4 million people age 12 and older had a substance use disorder related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year.
OJJDP funds drug courts to help youth and families overcome the effects of substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders by employing a multidisciplinary team of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, community corrections officers, social workers, and treatment service professionals. The courts provide youth and their families with counseling, education, and other treatment services; address problems that may contribute to drug use; and build skills that increase participants' ability to lead drug- and crime-free lives. The programs also strengthen family engagement and promote accountability.
Between fiscal years 2018 and 2020, OJJDP awarded almost $65 million to establish or expand drug courts across the country through the following programs:
- Juvenile Drug Treatment Court program funds treatment and services for youth with substance use and co-occurring mental health disorders. The program also offers funding to help jurisdictions establish new drug treatment courts or enhance existing courts.
- Family Drug Court program serves parents and guardians who require treatment for a substance use disorder and who are involved with the child welfare system as a result of child abuse or neglect. The program aims to ensure that children have safe, nurturing, and permanent homes; family members receive needed supports and services; and parents achieve stable recovery.
- Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts enhance the capacity of tribal courts to respond to the substance use challenges of court-involved youth. The courts employ culturally informed approaches to promote accountability, healing, and tribal identity in youth younger than age 21.
- Through the Drug Treatment Courts Training and Technical Assistance program, OJJDP helps drug treatment courts nationwide adopt evidence-based practices to address substance use and lower recidivism rates.
OJJDP's training and technical assistance providers are working on a variety of new initiatives to further enhance the efforts of drug courts.
- The National Association of Drug Court Professionals is nearing completion of an interactive map that shows which types of drug courts—including youth, family, adult, and veterans—are available by jurisdiction. The map will include information on local treatment and recovery resources.
The association also leads the Adolescent Recovery Oriented Systems of Care Project. The goal of this pilot project is to build individuals' personal resources while increasing their access to other supports—including social, financial, and community—that will improve their chances of sustaining long-term recovery.
Every May, the association coordinates National Drug Court Month to raise awareness about the critical role drug courts play in offering youth and families a path to long-term recovery from addiction. Visit the association's website for more information.
- OJJDP and the Center for Children and Family Futures—OJJDP's Family Drug Court program training and technical assistance provider—have selected eight family treatment courts to serve as mentor organizations for the 2021-2022 Peer Learning Court program. In collaboration with the training and technical assistance provider, these experienced courts will demonstrate to other treatment courts how a comprehensive family-centered approach, cross-systems collaboration, and the use of best practices improve outcomes for courts, child welfare, and substance use disorder treatment.
- Tribal Youth Resource Center provides training and technical assistance to federally recognized tribes that are establishing new Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts or enhancing an existing court. Tribes can request training or other technical assistance through its website.
Drug treatment courts can request training and technical assistance through OJJDP’s TTA360 portal.
In observance of National Drug Court Month, OJJDP has added new web pages for each of its drug court programs—Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts, Family Drug Courts, and Tribal Juvenile Healing to Wellness Courts.
Children and Family Futures is offering the Family Treatment Court Practice Academy. The webinar series encourages family treatment court professionals to more closely link their efforts involving child welfare, substance use disorder treatment, and court practices. The second course, Disrupting Stigma to Support Meaningful Change for Families in Family Treatment Court, will be held July 8, 2021.
The OJJDP Model Programs Guide provides evaluations of juvenile and family drug court programs.
Learn more about drug courts by reading the Office of Justice Programs’ Drug Courts fact sheet.