|May is National Drug Court Month, and this year marks thirty years of treatment courts in the United States. The first drug court was created in 1989 in Miami-Dade County, Florida. During the past three decades the number of drug courts has exceeded 4,000.
Treatment courts are designed with people in mind, essentially putting treatment and rehabilitation ahead of punishment. Instead of incarceration, the programs offer people with drug offenses the opportunity to enter court supervised, long-term treatment.
As public support for justice reform builds, so too does the recognition that a substance use disorder is a health issue and should be treated as such. The recent increase in opioid-related overdose deaths, with 130 Americans dying every day, changed the conversation about both substance use disorders and about treatment.
In 2017, the Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency. To combat the crisis, the federal government called for improving access to treatment and recovery services.