Category: Criminal Justice / Forensics


Investigating Mental Health Implications for Drug Court Participants

Saturday, November 18
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Location: Cobalt 502, Level 5, Cobalt Level

Keywords: Criminal Justice | Treatment Development | Legal Issues
Presentation Type: Symposium

Drug Court Treatment (DCT) Programs seek to integrate substance abuse treatment into the criminal justice system (CJS) by providing a structured environment for offenders requiring treatment in lieu of incarceration. DCT has shown successes in reducing drug/alcohol use, recidivism, and cost, but the impact of DCT on mental health outcomes is less clear.

Mental health correlates were examined within a DCT sample through analyses of participants’ pre-entry and pre-graduation MMPI-2 profiles. The local county DWI/Drug Court is a deferred adjudication program for adults with alcohol/drug-related charges, and program requirements include intensive outpatient treatment, aftercare consisting of group psychotherapy and Alcoholics/Narcotics Anonymous participation, abstinence from all drugs and alcohol, weekly probation officer reports, stable full-time employment, and regular court attendance. Participants were largely Caucasian males (N=56), with a mean age of 33.26 at the time of program graduation.

Analyses of pre-entry MMPI-2 profiles for all participants entering the program (N=86) yielded a mean T-score of 58 across clinical scales, with the Psychopathic Deviate scale showing the highest average T-score value (M=65, SD=11.81). When diagnostic information was available (N= 25), alcohol/substance use disorders were the modal primary diagnoses, and mood disorders had the highest comorbidity. Comparisons across administrations of the MMPI-2 were made for graduates (N=45), yielding significant differences among mean scores on 8 clinical scales, with the Paranoia scale showing the largest mean T-score reduction. Test-retest correlations ranged from .36 to .79, and correlation coefficients for T-scores averaged .59, suggesting variance in profile shape. Mean profile elevation scores decreased from 33 to 14 T-score points, and only 21.6% of the sample procured the same number of elevated scales. Results suggest a significant presence of mental health comorbidities in DCT programs. Significant mental health improvements were also seen for graduates, suggesting the utility of DCT for treating mental health problems in addition to substance use.

Alexis M. Humenik

Doctoral Student
Baylor University


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