Some Critics Ask Whether U.S. Has Overdosed On Drug Courts


Drug courts celebrated their 25th anniversary last year. There are some 2,800 in the U.S., serving 120,000 defendants annually. They enjoy broad political popularity and are touted as a perfect balance of treatment and punishment, a way for offenders to avoid the harsh sentences mandated by drug-war laws. Pacific Standard magazine says, however, that they embolden judges to practice medicine without a license and could put lives in danger.

The magazine reports that many drug court judges oppose the practice of maintenance therapy and require patients to become completely abstinent as a condition of participation or graduation. “They believe that maintenance simply amounts to swapping one drug addiction for another,” says Pacific Standard. “This critique betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of opioid pharmacology and addictive behavior.”

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