Begun Center, Mandel School researchers author study examining drug courts

In a recent study, a team of experts from the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences found medication-assisted treatment use didn’t increase the odds of drug court graduation, but social supports and age may be possible factors.

The following individuals worked on the research:

Margaret Baughman and Krystel Tossone, senior research associates at the Begun Center; Mark Singer, the Leonard W. Mayo Professor in Family and Child Welfare and deputy director of the Begun Center; and Daniel J. Flannery, the Semi J. and Ruth W. Begun Professor and director of the Begun Center, authored the findings.

Their article, titled “Evaluation of Treatment and Other Factors That Lead to Drug Court Success, Substance Use Reduction, and Mental Health Symptomatology Reduction Over Time,” was published in the International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology.

About the study

Drug courts use special dockets to reduce recidivism and drug use among clients and to keep clients engaged in treatment longer. One commonly employed method of drug treatment is medication-assisted treatment (MAT) which has been studied in abundance. However, other potential factors contributing to successes within the drug courts have lacked research.

In this study, the researchers aimed to answer four questions:

  • What are the characteristics of drug court clients from intake to discharge?
  • How does exposure to violence/trauma at intake contribute to the odds of experiencing mental health symptoms?
  • How does participating in drug court reduce sexual risk, mental health symptoms, needle/paraphernalia sharing, and substance use over time?
  • How does MAT, in consideration of other covariates, affect the odds of successful graduation from drug court?

To conduct the study, researchers administered the Government Performance and Results Act Client Outcome Measures for Discretionary Programs at entry, at six months and at discharge.

Tossone noted: “While MAT was not a significant factor in successful drug court completion, clients reported an overall improvement from intake to discharge in reduction of substance use, risky behaviors and mental health symptoms.”

Other factors, including social support, may play a role in drug court graduation.

To read the full article, visit the SAGE Journals website.