What makes a person successful in drug court?
Some Brooklyn participants suggested that they could tell who would not
make it as early as Phase I, which they viewed as the most difficult transition
into the program:
Others were not as certain, believing instead that participants could
fail at any time:
- If youre not going to make it, youre not going to make
it past Phase I. Cause thats when its real intense.
- Yeah, we had two runners right off the bat. Thats when they
- I knew some people who got through and as soon as they finished
it, graduated, they got high.
- The day I got released from jail, they was four of us. Im
the only one left.
Opinions among Las Vegas participants suggested that, in general, defendants
who complete the program have made a personal commitment to change their
- Its a new way of life. For some people its a new life.
- Some things youre doing youve got to carry with you,
you know, keep from going back. . . .
- I know . . . after being in prison for a year, the first thing I
did was drugs and Im not promising anything, but I dont
think Ill be doing it this time when I get done with this.
- It all depends on the individual person, because some people they
just want to get out so they can go and do their drugs again. Other
people, its like they really change their life through the program
and realize that they had a problem and they dont want to go back
to that, because their whole life has changed for the better. So it
just depends on the individual people.
In Miami, participants who succeeded did so because:
- They wanted to do it.
- They had the desire. . . . Thats all you need.
- They wanted it.
- They want to do it. The desire.
Portland focus group members also believed that success in the drug court
program depends on an individuals desire to stay clean:
- The people who make it through this program are the people that
really wanted it. Yeah, they really worked hard to get it.
- She just said the key thing. It has to be you . . . because if you
want it [drugs], youll get it.
In San Bernardino, participants also agreed that those who succeeded
were the ones with the desire to make it.
- The ones around me . . . seems like I know all the dopers . . .
some of them I look at I can see a schemer. I can see one thats
for real too. I can see the ones that wants some dope and the ones that
dont. So, theres a variety around in that courtroom.
- The beginning is the hardest. But when they think they made it to
the end, they relax too much.
- People fail all the time. Phase I. In the beginning. Or at the very
- Its all up to the individual. You gotta grow up one of these
Back to Commitment to Treatment
Chance: Perspectives on Drug Courts