Gartin Building Courtroom with the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi

12th Circuit Drug Court receives grant to treat co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders

November 12, 2009

The 12th Circuit Adult Drug Court recently was awarded a federal grant which will total nearly $900,000 over a three year period.

The Drug Court will receive $299,407 a year to enhance drug treatment accessibility for people with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The funding is through a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, (SAMHSA). The grant began Oct. 1 and will run through September 2012.

With funding from the grant, “we will be able to provide our participants a wider range of treatment, which hopefully will enhance their success,” said Circuit Judge Bob Helfrich, who presides over the 12th Circuit Adult Drug/DUI Court in Forrest and Perry counties.

Treatment is an essential part of the Drug Court program. Participants in the 12th Circuit Drug Court may start the program with three to six months of in-patient treatment. Out-patient treatment may also be utilized.

The Drug Court has about 230 people enrolled. Judge Helfrich said he doesn’t expect the numbers of participants to increase substantially, but the program will continue to grow.

“We don’t have a cap. If somebody needs it, we will bring them into the program,” he said.

About 80 percent of Drug Court participants are classified as dually-diagnosed, said Drug Court Coordinator Lucy Bates Davenport.

SAMHSA's Treatment Improvement Protocol, Substance Abuse Treatment for Persons with Co-Occurring Disorders, said that people with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders are “…individuals who have at least one psychiatric disorder as well as an alcohol or drug disorder. While these disorders may interact differently in any person (e.g., an episode of depression may trigger a relapse into alcohol abuse, or cocaine use may exacerbate schizophrenic symptoms) at least one disorder of each type can be diagnosed independently of the other.”

SAMHSA officials in a description of the grant said, “The goal will be for the dually diagnosed consumer to experience clinical integration.... Service providers holistically treat all contributing factors leading to the individual's substance abuse.”

Drug courts seek to rehabilitate drug-using offenders through drug treatment and intense supervision with drug testing and frequent court appearances.

Mississippi currently has 34 drug courts – 21 adult programs and 13 juvenile programs.