Grant Update: Kingston Drug Treatment Court

Nov 11, 2016

“The program provides a very different atmosphere from your typical courtroom experience”

An innovative Kingston-based program aimed at helping clients beat drug addiction received a $15,700 grant from the Community Foundation for Kingston & Area in 2014 to help run this pilot project. The Kingston Drug Treatment Court was launched in June of that year by Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services, in partnership with justice services and other community partners, to provide treatment-based services.

Tamara Cicciarella, addictions counsellor with the agency, says the program’s primary goal is to offer treatment options to individuals who have committed Criminal Code offences to support their addictions. “Its goal is to help them achieve and maintain abstinence from drug use and it also provides an opportunity for them to participate in intensive treatment-based activities,” she says. “It’s based on clients’ honesty about their drug use and is intended to help them address their addiction through intensive treatment rather than spending time in  jail with limited access to programming,” Cicciarella added. “The program provides a very different atmosphere from your typical courtroom experience.”

Clients appear before a judge and explain their progress in avoiding drug use. This progress is then discussed with judicial partners and treatment providers. The judge offers verbal praise for their progress. Coffee cards are provided for success, and for attendance for treatment and social incentives. Sanctions may also be provided for non-adherence to treatment plans, as determined by treatment providers and the justice system.

Clients have benefitted greatly by receiving intensive mental health and addiction services and being provided with opportunities and tools to help them reintegrate with the community in a positive way, including assistance in setting and achieving goals such as improving their education, volunteering and/or finding meaningful employment, and establishing healthy coping strategies and social supports.

The first graduate entered the program ready to make a change after facing several drug-related charges, serving federal prison time and losing custody of her three young children. She attended over 150 addiction treatment appointments, explored and identified many contributing factors related to her substance use, and developed healthy coping strategies and a strong social support system to support her recovery.

She was able to successfully maintain her abstinence from hard drugs for well over a year, and is attending post-secondary education, working towards a career in healthcare. She has also regained full custody of her three children and has successfully balanced her recovery with the demands of schooling, family and the requirements of the Drug Treatment Court program.

The Drug Treatment Court advisory committee and participants are immensely grateful for the financial support provided by the Community Foundation Grant, which allowed for the setup and ongoing operation of the first year of the program. This program will continue to thrive and assist many other participants in accomplishing their goals and living a healthy lifestyle free of substance abuse.

From Ripples Fall 2014 authored by Stacey, Client Services Manager, Frontenac Community Mental Health and Addiction Services


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Kingston, ON K7L 2Y6
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