September 2021
What's Happening at NDCRC?
The Official 2020 Treatment Court Count is available!

As of December 31, 2020, there were 3,848 treatment courts across the US states and territories! The NDCRC’s official treatment court count is broken down by state and court type; these numbers are also displayed on our interactive map. Learn more about how these data were collected, access the count or print it out for your reference.
Drug Court Review Journals available

You may have picked up a hard-copy of the Drug Court Review journal at RISE21. If you didn't get your copy, never fear! While they last, we can mail you a copy if you submit your mailing address to These are also available digitally on the NDCRC website. Look for the next volume focusing on equity and inclusion by the end of 2021!
Do Better after RISE21

It was great to see all of you in person at RISE21! We loved getting to talk with you about all of the free resources and the interactive map available on our website. We learned a lot about how we as researchers and practitioners can Do Better in our everyday actions. Think of something you learned from RISE21 and tell us about it on our Do Better commitment board, or let us know how the NDCRC can help you Do Better!
Beyond the Field
Each month the NDCRC will feature a topic relevant to the work of treatment courts. This information is designed to give you “food for thought” regarding your treatment court program's structure and operations and provide supporting multimedia resources.
Evidence-Based Relationships: The Science of Relationships that Work

by Sally MacKain, Ph.D., Director of Clinical Treatment, NDCRC

The NADCP Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards champion the use of evidence-based practices, based on the best available research. While research can tell us what models and interventions work, the how of their delivery is less often discussed. The most effective treatment court teams go beyond the “what” of their program’s offerings (evidence-based practices) and relate to participants in ways that support and promote recovery (evidence-based relationships).  

A Task Force on Evidence-Based Relationships was formed by the American Psychological Association to analyze the best available research to identify the core components of effective therapy relationships (Norcross & Wampole, 2011). The Task Force concluded that the therapeutic alliance, empathy, and gathering client feedback are clearly linked to positive outcomes. The therapeutic alliance entails mutually agreed upon goals, agreed upon tasks, and a sense of collaboration and relational bond between the two parties. Multiple rigorous studies also indicate that therapists who can express empathy (understand and acknowledge the client’s perspective) and who actively monitor client’s perceptions and responses to treatment are more effective. Relationship behaviors deemed ineffective and potentially harmful include a confrontational style, therapist comments that are hostile or blaming, judging the person versus their behavior, and applying a one-size-fits-all approach that ignores individual and cultural differences. 

Relevance to Treatment Courts

While most members of treatment court teams are not therapists, the Task Force’s findings detail what works and doesn’t work in relationships that target lasting personal change. The following can apply to every court team role:
  • To enhance the relational alliance, treatment court team members should frequently discuss participants’ personal values and motivations, and collaboratively review program and client expectations. 
  • While these relationships must remain professional, expressing genuine caring for participants can help form bonds that are healthy, respectful and meaningful.
  • Directly asking clients for feedback about the program and their experiences provides opportunities to improve collaboration, to modify approaches as needed, and prevent premature termination. 
  • Confrontation has historically been a problem in the addictions field. Interactions that are infused with motivational enhancement elements, such as rolling with resistance, reflective responding and active listening serve as antidotes to these all-too-human, but toxic reactions.  
  • Individualized treatment plans that consider the individual’s unique and diverse identities are a hallmark of treatment court Best Practices, and the Task Force’s findings confirm this. “Fair treatment” does not equal “identical treatment.” It means tailoring the program and services to match the evolving needs of each individual.

Treatment court involvement is essentially a series of human interactions, so relationships between participants and the team are central to recovery. Substance use and criminal behavior can be viewed as rooted in disturbed relationships, disconnection and alienation, and treatment court professionals have the opportunity to make lasting impacts--not only via evidence-based techniques and operational models--but through meaningful, evidence-based connections.  

Norcross, J.C. & Wampole, B.E. (2011). Evidence-based therapy relationships: Research conclusions and clinical practices. Psychotherapy, 48(1), 98-102.
Monthly Highlights

Join SAMHSA and Faces & Voices of Recovery in promoting and supporting new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the emergence of a strong and proud recovery community, and the dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.
TTA Collaborative Updates
The Training & Technical Assistance (TTA) Collaborative comprises four entities: The National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), Center for Court Innovation (CCI), Tribal Law & Policy Institute (TLPI), & the National Drug Court Resource Center (NDCRC). Monthly updates from our TTA Collaborative partners are featured below. 
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
A Big Thank You for RISE21!

The NDCRC would like to thank NADCP for hosting a hugely successful RISE21 conference in August! It was a great opportunity to network with other treatment court professionals and take back new skills to apply to your courts at home. We look forward to seeing you at RISE22!
Kristen Devall conversing in the NDCRC booth at RISE21
Center for Court Innovation
New Publication Available

Innovative at their inception three decades ago, drug courts confront a practical and ethical obligation to reimagine some core practices and assumptions. A shifting legal and public health landscape means, for example, increased scrutiny of the courts’ focus on abstinence and mandated treatment, and the use of jail.

CCI’s new publication “Bridging the Gap: A Practitioner’s Guide to Harm Reduction in Drug Courts” argues the most effective way for drug courts to evolve is by integrating the practices and principles of harm reduction. Harm reduction aims to reduce the harms related to drug use, racialized drug policies, and social health disparities, with services not contingent on a person’s willingness to change all behaviors.

Drug courts and harm reduction cannot be easily reconciled, but the benefits of even a limited partnership outweigh the challenges. In a first-of-its-kind effort, the authors offer drug court practitioners 12 strategies to help drug courts re-align with their original stated purpose: to offer a truly therapeutic and health-based alternative to carceral drug strategies.
Tribal Law & Policy Institute
Please join the Tribal Law and Policy Institute (TLPI) as we celebrate National Recovery Month 2021. During the month of September, TLPI will host a series of talking circles, webinars, and acknowledge addiction and treatment professionals in the field. This year’s theme is: RECOVERY IS FOR EVERYONE: EVERY PERSON, EVERY FAMILY, EVERY COMMUNITY. This theme reminds people in recovery and those who support them that recovery belongs to and benefits all of us. 

This event is free to all participants. Registration information and a digital copy of all training materials, including publications, handouts and session PowerPoint presentations, will be available on the virtual training space and available to all attendees at
Featured State
Texas receives an increase in funding for Specialty Court programs, allowing 2,000 judges virtual platforms to conduct over one million court proceedings in 2020 and 2021. Read more about these and other developments from Texas Specialty Courts here, along with some of their most recent bi-monthly newsletters from April, May, and July.
In Other News
OJJDP has released the “OJJDP Tribal Consultation Response.” The report summarizes and responds to issues discussed at OJJDP's June 2020 tribal consultation with 288 tribal leaders and representatives, highlights action steps, and notes how OJJDP plans to support tribal communities' work with their youth. 
A gap in access to juvenile drug treatment courts (JDTCs) is identified across West Virginia, where 31 out of 55 counties do not host a JDTC, which are proven to reduce adult recidivism and treatment costs.

A recent BJA blog post steps inside the Ottawa County Recovery Court and includes commentary on the importance of treatment courts from NDCRC co-directors Dr. Christina Lanier and Dr. Kristen DeVall.