A statewide, prescription database might have reduced “doctor shopping” but prescription drugs still rank as the major abused substance that lands people in Adult Drug Court, said Nick Bridenback, drug court director.
In an effort to combat prescription medicine abuse a special drug court program is aimed to help 185 abusers coming through the Sixth Judicial Circuit over three years using a nearly $1.3 million grant.
The YouCan program offers certain non-violent felony offenders a chance at treatment through a nationally recognized model. Men and women between 18 and 26 years old and facing criminal charges for issues related to prescription drug abuse are eligible for the court-supervised, comprehensive treatment program that is expected to start early in 2013.
Participation in the program is voluntary for defendants in pre-trial intervention, post-plea, and post-adjudication or probation violation stages of the court process.
First-time, pre-trial defendants who enter Adult Drug Court may have charges against them dismissed after successful completion of the program. For defendants under supervision of the State Department of Corrections (postplea drug court), successful completion results in a withhold of adjudication and possibly a reduced length of probation.
The grant is for $424,760 each year for three years. Some of the money funds a case manager who oversees the program’s progress. Other funding pays for treatment and testing, which is provided by the Clearwater office of the Center for Rational Living and WestCare Florida of St. Petersburg. The grant is from the U.S. Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.
The program is patterned after WeCan!, a recently concluded three-year program for women with prescription drug problems. That program saw 109 women complete treatment and 31 are still in the process.