Drug courts first originated 27 years ago with the purpose to serve as an alternative option to help individuals who are struggling with drug addiction. The way society has handled drug addiction has drastically changed throughout history. Strict laws have led to punishment, but recently, there has been a slow shift in how society approaches addiction, which has led to more support for treatment as opposed to punitive action. My Independent Study uses one court as a case study to examine whether drugs courts are functional in the context of treating addiction and how they are working to meet the goals of the court and of the individual. Comparing and contrasting the program manual and interviews with courthouse officials, I closely examine exactly how the drug court implements the process. Emile Durkheim, Howard Becker, and Joseph Gusfield are the theorists that I use to help explain my findings. The results of my study indicate that this particular drug court succeeds in reaching high levels of accountability and individualism for the participants; however, the drug court as an institution should reconsider the structure in order to better benefit a wider range of people struggling with addiction.


Matsuzawa, Setsuko


Sociology and Anthropology


Social and Behavioral Sciences


drug addiction, treatment, drug court

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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