The Institute of Research, Education and Services in Addiction at the Universidad Central del Caribe, School of Medicine has been providing various trainings to the Drug Courts of Puerto Rico. Drug Courts is a program that seeks the recovery of people with substance use disorders through a continuous and intensive judicial follow up. It applies the Therapeutic Justice Model, which is the use of social science to study the extent to which legal rule, or practice promotes the psychological and physical wellbeing of the people it affects. Drug Courts goals are the recovery of the participants, their reintegration to society, and decrease recidivism or commission of new offense. All training opportunities delivered to the Drug Courts personnel have been requested by the Judicial Academy of Puerto Rico. The Academy took the initiative to provide training to all there staff from the Department of Correction and Rehabilitation (e.g., prosecutors, police, officials, social workers, judges, assistants, and program coordinators) who are directly or indirectly involved in Program. This was with the intention that all areas receive the same training (based on evidence and best practices), share the same knowledge and understanding on how to provide adequate and needed services for all Program’s participants.
All trainings provided to Drug Courts staff during past year included the following topics:
- application and management of incentives and sanctions in specialized courts for controlled substances;
- access to justice and the treatment of substance use disorders for vulnerable populations
- trauma management in people with substance use and mental health disorders and the vicarious trauma;
- instruments for screening and assessment evaluation for substance use disorders; and
- the effect of opioids on human behavior and its impact on the justice system.
These topics considered the specific capacity building needs from criminal justice personnel. The delivery encompassed increasing knowledge and providing necessary skills for this particular workforce, thus they are able to understand substance use disorders, screening and assessment strategies, connection between substance use and mental health disorders, as well as its treatment alternatives. Raising awareness and capacity building in these professionals will decrease stigma on persons with substance use disorders, while helping them receive needed services and treatment to recover their lives and return to the community with the tools they need to be a productive citizens. It is our goal that we do not only influence the workforce but to create a cascade of actions to reduce health disparities among the population they serve. These professionals now have the skills to assist participants with particular situations while in receiving their services. The Drug Courts program has been in Puerto Rico for 23 years and the NeC ATTC has been providing them with training and technical assistance. This year we delivered a total of 15 trainings and impacted 442 providers. We look forward to continue providing the Drug Courts program with all the trainings they need in order for participants to receive quality and responsive services.