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Federal grant funds new Drug Court program for young adults | News

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Federal grant funds new Drug Court program for young adults
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Federal grant funds new Drug Court program for young adults

Pinellas County, Florida -- A new program, named YouCan!, for people between the ages of 18 to 26 facing criminal charges for issues related to abuse of prescription drugs is expected to get its first clients early in 2013.

The special Pinellas Drug Court program will be funded by nearly $1.3 million in federal grant money from the U.S. Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) and the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). 

YouCan! is aimed to help young adult abusers of prescription drugs and is patterned after a recently concluded three-year program WeCan! that targeted females with prescription drug problems. The goal is to treat 185 substance abusers during the length of the grant.

SEE ALSO: Pinellas County BOCC approves use of grant funds

Chief Deputy Trial Courts Administrator Michelle Ardabilly, who coordinates the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida’s grant applications, said the 18-26 age group was chosen as a target treatment sample after hearing concerns regarding a gap in services available to those young adults.

Pinellas Drug Court Director Nick Bridenback said that while some of the money will be used for funding a case manager who will oversee the progress of those in the program, the majority of the funds will go toward treatment and testing. Treatment and testing services will be provided by WestCare Florida of St. Petersburg and the Clearwater office of the Center for Rational Living.

The Sixth Judicial Circuit of Florida says participation in the program will be voluntary for defendants in pre-trial intervention, post-plea, and post-adjudication or probation violation stages of the court process.

First-time, pre-trial defendants who enter Adult Drug Court may have charges against them dismissed after successful completion of the program. For defendants under supervision of the State Department of Corrections (post-plea drug court), successful completion results in a withhold of adjudication, and/or a reduced length of probation.

The YouCan! program will involve clients in treatment plans similar to that utilized for WeCan!. The treatment model focuses on the client’s motivation for change and the enhancement of coping skills for dealing with traumas that the clients may face with abuse of prescription drugs.

Other features of the program include:

1) Utilizing a standardized screening assessment to accurately identify co-occurring disorders and traumas;

2) Putting evidence-based treatment into operation;

3) Weekly drug testing during treatment and then monthly testing for up to a year after treatment;

4) Treatment sessions three times a week the first three months of the program; then twice a week for three months;

5) A final phase of aftercare and relapse prevention that calls for follow-up at a minimum of two-week intervals for up to six months.

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