Although drug treatment courts (DTCs) have demonstrated positive outcomes, participants with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders (CODs) are a high-risk group that often struggle with treatment engagement not previously examined. This pilot study fills this gap by looking at six-month behavioral health and criminal justice outcomes among a hard to engage DTC COD participant sample in two Massachusetts DTCs receiving a wraparound-treatment (Maintaining Independence and Sobriety through Systems Integration, Outreach, and Networking-Criminal Justice – MISSION-CJ).
Participants were evaluated at baseline and at six-month follow-up. Bivariate analyses examined baseline differences between clients with higher versus low engagement were examined. A mixed analysis of variance (ANOVA) for repeated measures with time as the within subject factor, and level of engagement as the between subject factor was performed for criminal justice (CJ) and behavioral health outcomes.
Participants were primarily male (86.6%), White (90.6%), living in unstable housing (86.2%), had an average of 18.94 years of criminal justice involvement, had an average of 15.49 years of regular illicit substance use, and mild mental health symptoms as measured by the BASIS-32 average total score (0.51), with no statistically significant differences at baseline from bivariate analyses. Mixed ANOVA results demonstrated significant effect time of time in MISSION-CJ on reducing nights in jail (p = 0.0266), opioid use (p = 0.0013), and mental health symptom (p = 0.0349). Additional improvements in nights in jail p = 0.0139), illicit substance use (p = 0.0358), and opioid use (p = 0.0013), were observed for clients that had high engagement in MISSION-CJ.
Wraparound services, such as MISSION-CJ, alongside DTC programming for a chronic relapsing DTC population can improve engagement in treatment and CJ and behavioral health outcomes. Future research is needed with MISSION-CJ that includes a randomized trial and a larger sample.

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.