Alberta Expands ‘Drug Treatment Courts’ into Lethbridge

Addiction issues need to be addressed
Addiction issues need to be addressed

LETHBRIDGE – Drug treatment courts help break the cycle of addiction-related crime by giving people who commit non-violent offences access to judicially supervised treatment and recovery. Treatment is supplemented by frequent drug testing, incentives, sanctions, and social services support.

“Southern Alberta has had the highest increase in methamphetamine use across the province since 2012-2013 and trafficking in hard drugs such as meth and heroin in Lethbridge is nearly six times the national average. Our government will be opening a drug treatment court in Lethbridge to help keep southern Albertans safe by ensuring those struggling with addiction have access to treatment to prevent the cycle of re-offense. We are also providing law enforcement in southern Alberta with the tools they need to disrupt and dismantle the organized crime groups that traffic and supply the illegal drugs that fuel addiction and take a terrible toll on our communities,” says Doug Schweitzer, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General.

Alberta is investing public funds in this effort as a means of changing the focus from criminal to social and medical treatment when it comes to addiction. These programs were started in Edmonton and Calgary and are continuing.

“Drug courts will allow participants to repair their lives, reconnect with loved ones and find long-term recovery. I firmly believe if a drug court in Lethbridge had been available for my daughter all those years ago, her life would look very different. Perhaps all of the trauma she suffered would have been mitigated. We will never know for her, but I do know we now have the opportunity to positively impact the lives of others,” says Robin James, a person with lived experience.

Lethbridge will have the first drug treatment court outside of Edmonton and Calgary as part of a four-year investment of up to $20 million that will see drug treatment courts expanded to five additional sites across the province.

The government is also increasing funding for law enforcement initiatives to disrupt and dismantle organized crime with a $50-million budget increase to Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT). A portion of this new funding will allow ALERT to expand regional organized crime units across the province, including four adding new investigators to the regional unit based in Lethbridge.