Standards on Substance Abuse: Standard IX. Treatment matching

Standards prepared by the Supreme Judicial Court Standing Committee on Substance Abuse

Table of Contents

Standard IX

Court-ordered treatment should match the party's treatment needs, and should be selected on the basis of expert information about what type of treatment will work best for the party, with full consideration of public safety.


Court-ordered treatment should be based on the court-ordered assessment and the treatment recommendation resulting from the assessment, including the manner of payment for the treatment recommended. The treatment recommendation should address the party's needs, if any, for educational assistance, psychological or psychiatric services, vocational services, and social skills training. If an assessment is conducted before the issuance of the treatment order, the probation department, with the judge's approval, should make all relevant information and recommendations available to the court, the parties, and their attorneys, within a reasonable time prior to the issuance of a treatment order. See Massachusetts Rules of Criminal Procedure 28(d)(3) regarding access to pre-sentence reports. The objective of matching treatment to the party's treatment needs is to match the intensity of the intervention to the severity of the substance abuse problem. It involves consideration not only of the individual qualities addressed by the assessment, including the severity of the dependency and the support structures available to the person through family, work, school, and peers, but also of the latest available information about the effectiveness of treatment programs. Appropriate matching, using only those resources and restrictions called for by the substance abuser's problem, greatly enhances the effectiveness of treatment, is essential in addressing relapse and reducing recidivism, and promotes the efficient use of resources.

Self-help recovery groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, are typically part of a good, comprehensive treatment plan. For example, if a treatment program slot is not immediately available, the judge may order that the party abstain from alcohol or drugs (as provided in Standard XI) and suggest that he or she should participate in a self help recovery program in order to comply with the abstinence order. Such participation can be a valuable interim action. Participation in a self-help recovery group can also be an essential adjunct to treatment and a means of sustaining recovery. The judge should allow the party the option of attending either AA/NA meetings or other daily self help recovery meetings that do not conflict with his or her religious beliefs.



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