The Provincial Court of Alberta started a Drug Treatment Court in 2005. The program is intended to break the cycle of criminal behavior driven by drug addiction, by offering participants a chance to avoid prison and complete a drug treatment program in the case of non-violent offences. The program is comprehensive and aims to reduce the number of crimes committed to support drug dependence through judicial supervision, drug abuse treatment, frequent drug testing, incentives, sanctions and social services support. Calgary, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Red Deer, Fort McMurray, and Grande Prairie have Drug Treatment Court programs.
Each participant’s journey through DTC is individualized to that person’s needs. A participant is typically in the program between 12 and 24 months before graduating. During these months they will have attended residential treatment, and some will also reside in a sober living facility. They are enrolled in courses related to criminal and addictive thinking, relapse prevention, as well as a host of addiction services courses offered through AHS. They may be offered parenting courses, financial literacy, bereavement and trauma-based programming, and are required to complete a minimum of 100 volunteer hours.
While not every participant graduates from DTC, approximately 80 per cent do. And of those that graduate, it is estimated that 70 per cent will not reoffend.
In Calgary, the Drug Treatment Court has both an Early Intervention program that attempts to prevent more serious addiction, and a High Risk/High Needs program, which provides support for those who are highly addicted and committing crime on a daily to weekly basis to obtain money for drugs.