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David P. Rentler


Illegal substance use in the United States is a growing problem, and a western state has a higher than average rate of drug offenders. Many courts, including misdemeanor courts, have limited to no budget for drug treatment programs outside of the drug court treatment programs. As such, many court-ordered drug treatment programs, when drug counseling is ordered in exchange for a reduction in charges, are outsourced to privately owned companies. The drug counseling entails a single 8-hour outsourced drug counseling course, which includes either in-person, online, or correspondence-based counseling. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of the three modalities of the lower level drug counseling course. Effectiveness was measured by comparing recidivism rates of offenders completing each of the three modalities of the program. A second goal of the study was to investigate whether relationships exist in recidivism rates as a function of modality of program delivery, type of drug used by offenders, risk of re-offense, or an interaction between the three. Archival data (N = 395) were collected from a misdemeanor court, and the results of an ordinal logistic regression indicated a statistically significant relationship between recidivism, risk, and modalities of counseling. The modality that was most effective was the online modality of counseling, for offenders who had no risk, and reduced the potential for recidivism by 79%. The results of this study could assist the local government in determining the effectiveness of each of the three modalities of the abbreviated drug counseling program and assist in future decisions regarding development of drug counseling programs and necessary funding for those programs, providing potential for positive social change.

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