LEAD Programs - Are they Changing Treatment?

How LEAD Programs Are Changing Drug Treatment

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) programs are popping up all over the country, helping low-level drug addicted criminals and prostitutes get off the streets and into the recovery programs they need. Since some of the main prospects are non-violent criminals with addictions, LEAD programs are making changes in the way drug and alcohol treatment is managed.

Harm Reduction

For years, the idea of harm reduction when it came to drug and alcohol addiction was scoffed at. Many believed that the only real way to fix America's drug problem was to remain strict on absence — and that's how our drug policies have been formed. While anybody in recovery will tell you abstinence is vital, not everyone is necessarily looking for sobriety. With a harm reduction model, these individuals can still turn their lives around and get out of the criminal justice system.

Help with Co-Occurring Issues

For many of the low level repeat offenders, there's more going on other than just addiction. Mental health issues run rampant in jails and treatment centers, and it's likely that a person addicted to drugs and/or alcohol will also have a mental health disorder. Through the LEAD program, a case manager works one-on-one with the individual, linking him or her to community services and programs to address all needs — including mental health treatment and support.

Coordination Between Programs

Once enrolled in a LEAD program, there's collaboration between multiple agencies and groups to help the offender reach his or her goals. Instead of independently trying to reach all of them, the links are made and the groups work in coordination with one another. For instance, a probation officer may violate an individual for being homeless, but if in the LEAD program, hold off because the officer understands the person is working towards goals, including housing.

Immediate Needs Come First

When a person doesn't know where he's going to sleep at night or where his next meal is coming from, it's hard to worry about getting clean and sober. Lead program case managers help these individuals get their basic needs met first, so that they're about to focus on recovery when it's time. Because the offenders are taken directly to the case manager, some needs, such as housing and utility assistance, can be reached the same day.