Even if it's your Fault - Recognizing the DTC Program

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Even if it's your Fault - Recognizing the DTC Program

This blog is an extension of my previous post: “Not his fault, but still his fault”.  I write it for two reasons:

(1) Because I thought my last post unfairly failed to recognized that the Provincial Court of Alberta has established a drug treatment court that may provide a light even in circumstances where it's the person's fault; and

(2) To highlight a couple of news reports building upon the role of western medicine and business in promoting drug addiction.

always be critical when interpreting anything published by anybody

With respect to news reports (and even this post), I caution everybody to steel themselves against over generalizing in a way that unjustly brushes an entire class of people or an entire profession as unethical or improperly self-motivated. In particular, do not paint all doctors, or all drug company executives/management with the brush of being contributors (intentional or otherwise) to the North American Opioid Crisis.  Just as not all defence lawyers are guilty plea factories, not all doctors or executives are self-motivated prescribers of dangerous drugs. 

Keeping that in mind, as reported by the NY Times: "[S]cores of medical professionals across seven states…were charged by [U.S.] federal prosecutors on Wednesday with schemes to illegally distribute millions of pain pills.  Opioid prescriptions were exchanged for sex in some cases, and for cash with an added “concierge fee” in others".


As reported by Global News, one doctor even titled himself “the El-Chapo of Opioids":


The point of bringing this to your attention is to emphasize that there are scores of drug addled human beings struggling through their daily existence as a result of issues that may not be their fault. Accordingly, as we go about our daily lives I think there is wisdom in questioning any economically motivated, potentially prescription happy medical paradigm. 

More importantly, for the purpose of this criminal law website, I take the position that perhaps our system of justice needs to think about addiction in a broader sense.  Though I agree that addiction is often the fault of the addict, I think in our system of individualized sentencing (see R. v. Lacosse) there is room for compassion and sympathy to the point of considering addiction as potentially a real mitigating factor. In the same breath, I am left wonder, even if the addiction is the fault of the addict -- for example due to his or her recreational bad choices -- does it really matter?

Drug Treatment Court in Calgary

Thankfully, in Calgary and other jurisdictions throughout Alberta, there is a “drug treatment court” (DTC) that offers pre-sentence alternatives for drug-addicted offenders. 


In Calgary, Crowns and Judges participating in the DTC program work hard to offer a rehabilitative platform to permit offenders a chance to successfully reintegrate into society.  The program is not easy, but for many, it’s effective; for not only can successfully participating in the program potentially thwart a jail sentencing, it can give the participant the tools to cope with what might be a lifelong problem.

In my view, with a nearly 82% success rate in preventing recidivism, the program appears to be a real success.  

If you are seeking information about Drug Treatment Court, the DTC manual can be accessed by clicking:


Though this program is not easy and is not for everybody, it is laudable attempt within our reactive system to help people regain a future.


David Chow

Calgary Drug Lawyer