Redefining Success: A Qualitative Investigation of Therapeutic Outcomes for Noncompleting Drug Court Clients




Traci R. Francis & Eileen Mazur Abel

Journal of Social Service Research

26 Feb 2014



Utilizing a convenience sample from a drug court program, the authors investigated the benefits of treatment for noncompleting drug court clients (n = 30). Using an as-treated design, the qualitative investigation assessed whether noncompleters received any benefit from their drug court experience. In-depth interviews were conducted to determine both benefits gained and reductions in harm that occurred as a result of drug court participation. Data analysis was guided by the grounded theory method. Outcomes of coding indicated that participants' motivation and self-efficacy were enhanced through the intervention. Further, participants reported that their relationships with family, therapists, or peers were improved as a result of their involvement with drug court. Individuals in the study sample reported abstinence or decreased substance use, as well as improvements in employment and/or educational attainment. Participantsí perceptions of barriers to program completion were also noted. Study outcomes suggest that expansion of a harm reduction approach in social service practice may have utility for drug-abusing populations. Limitations of the research, including lack of generalizability, are discussed. Further research of harm reduction effects with a larger, heterogeneous sample size is recommended.