Drug Courts

Research to Practice Initiative

The Adult Drug Court Research to Practice Initiative promotes the dissemination of emerging research on drug courts.

A drug court is a specialized or problem-solving court-based program that targets criminal offenders and parents with pending child welfare cases who have alcohol and other drug addiction and dependency problems.

As of December 31, 2011, there were over 2600 drug courts operating throughout the U.S. More than half of these target adult offenders; others address juvenile, child welfare and different court case types.

Adult Drug Court Locations in the United States
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Number and Types of Drug Courts
(As of December 31, 2011) [1]
Type of Drug Court Number
Adult Drug Courts 1,435 [2]
Juvenile Drug Courts [3] 458
Family Drug Courts 329
Tribal Drug Courts 79
Designated DUI Courts 192
Campus Drug Courts 5
Reentry Drug Courts 31
Federal Reentry Drug Courts 46
Veterans Drug Courts 95
Co-Occurring Disorder Courts 20

The Drug Court Model

Although adult drug courts vary in target population, program model and service resources, they are generally based on a comprehensive model involving:

  • Offender assessment.
  • Judicial interaction.
  • Monitoring (e.g., drug testing) and supervision.
  • Graduated sanctions and incentives.
  • Treatment services.

Drug court programs are usually managed by a nonadversarial and multidisciplinary team. Recent research has shown that the stability of a drug court program and its judge play a key role in successful case management and reducing offender recidivism.

For more information on adult and juvenile drug court program models:


[1] Statistics are taken from the National Drug Court Institute website Exit Notice, accessed May 11, 2012.

[2] 406 of the 1,435 adult drug courts are hybrid DWI/Drug Courts.

[3] Juvenile drug courts try to address the unique circumstances surrounding adolescent delinquency coupled with substance abuse. For more information on juvenile drug courts, see:

Date Modified: May 15, 2012