March 2021
What's Happening at NDCRC?
The fourth episode of the Justice to Healing podcast is available now! NDCRC co-directors Dr. Kristen DeVall and Dr. Christina Lanier welcome Susan Broderick, J.D., founder and CEO of Building Bridges to Recovery and former Assistant District Attorney at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, as she focuses on the promise of recovery capital and its impact on the road to recovery. Join the discussion or listen on all streaming platforms!
The NDCRC has initiated the first ever national survey of Tribal Healing to Wellness Courts! The targeted collection will focus on how THWCs are structured, how they operate, the outcomes produced, challenges experienced, and resources needed. Results of the survey will be published later this year.
Beyond the Field
Each month the NDCRC will feature a topic relevant to the work of treatment courts. This information is designed to give you “food for thought” regarding your treatment court program's structure and operations and provide supporting multimedia resources.
The Science of Future Thinking and its Role in Recovery

by Sally MacKain, Ph.D., LP

Would you prefer a delicious piece of chocolate now or a whole chocolate bar tomorrow? A 3-day vacation now or a 7-day vacation in 5 months? To spend an extra/bonus $500 now, or put it in a savings account to accrue interest? Most people prefer immediate rewards over delayed ones. However, people with substance use challenges tend to find it especially difficult to imagine their futures and delay rewards. Research indicates that people with substance use disorders have a narrower “temporal window,” meaning their attention is focused on gaining near-future rewards, such as the next drink or next drug use opportunity. For example, studies show that when asked about their own future, the typical individual reports goals and activities about 5 years in the future. In stark contrast, people with heroin use disorders offered reports that extended only 9 days in the future, on average (Patel & Amlen, 2020).

Delay discounting is the term used to describe the rate at which future rewards are less valued over time. Higher rates of delay discounting are related to impulsivity and risky behaviors like drug and alcohol use. Research in Episodic Future Thinking (EFT) suggests that helping people to vividly imagine personally salient future events could help them learn to delay rewards in order to get a bigger payoff in the longer term (Bulley & Gullo, 2017). Applied to a treatment court context, clients could learn to forgo short term rewards such as relief from craving or feeling euphoric, in favor of long-term goals, like graduating from the program, freedom from probation, and regaining custody of children.

Several promising studies of EFT with people with alcohol dependence show positive results. For example, Snider, LaConte & Bickel, (2016) encouraged participants to expand their temporal windows by thinking about personally relevant future events and describing them in salient detail. Participants reported the most positive event that could realistically happen at each of 5 points in the future (1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 1 year). Researchers then probed: “What will you be doing?” “Whom will you be with?” “Where will you be?” “How will you be feeling?” “What will you be seeing?” “What will you be hearing?” “What will you be tasting?” “What will you be smelling?” (pp. 1160-1161). They also asked a comparison group of people with alcohol dependence to imagine PAST events in the same timeframes, with similarly worded probes. This method allowed researchers to assess the unique contribution of a future time orientation.

Each participant’s future or past personalized account was then integrated into a task in which they chose between hypothetical gains in money received now or after some delay (e.g., “Would you like $50 now or $100 in a year?” They also administered measures of alcohol use.  They found that over time, people in the future-thinking/EFT group came to value future monetary rewards more highly and reduced their alcohol consumption. These improvements were also found in a study that involved a one-week, 4-session/practice protocol with people with alcohol dependence (Patel & Amlen, 2020). In addition to decreases in alcohol demands and delay discounting rates (i.e., they were more able to delay rewards), participants who had engaged in even 1 session also showed significant increases in mindfulness—an essential tool in supporting recovery.

More research is needed to determine whether EFT can effectively contribute to treatment of substance use disorders. But treatment court personnel and providers can easily incorporate these highly targeted, future-thinking questions to help clients visualize a future self that is healthier and more fulfilled. Repeated practice is essential to change, and the frequent contacts afforded to treatment court clients could provide ideal opportunities to engage them in this line of thinking.

We hope you will join us on NDCRC’s Beyond the Field discussion board for continued dialogue about the topic. All Beyond the Field newsletter features can be found on our blog for easy reference!
Bulley A, Gullo MJ. (2017). The influence of episodic foresight on delay discounting and demand for alcohol. Addictive Behaviors, 66, 1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2016.11.003. Epub 2016 Nov 3. PMID: 27837662.

Patel, H. & Amlung, M. (2020). Acute and extended exposure to episodic future thinking in a treatment seeking addiction sample: A pilot study. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 116, ISSN 0740-5472,

Snider SE, LaConte SM, Bickel WK. (2016). Episodic Future Thinking: Expansion of the temporal window in individuals with Alcohol Dependence. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, 40(7), 1558-1566. doi: 10.1111/acer.13112. Epub 2016 Jun 1. PMID: 27246691; PMCID: PMC5497459.
Funding Opportunities Deadline: March 31, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET
JustGrants Application Deadline: April 14, 2021, 11:59 p.m. ET deadline: March 16, 2021, 9:00 p.m. ET
JustGrants Application deadline: March 30, 2021, 9:00 p.m. ET
Budget Worksheet Completion Webinar: March 2, 2021, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET
Application Checklist and Final Q&A Webinar: March 9, 2021, 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. ET

NOTE: OJJDP has cancelled the solicitations listed below due to a technical issue in JustGrants. OJJDP is working on the issue and intends to repost these solicitations as soon as it is resolved. Applicants who have already applied will be notified of the issue and invited to reapply.
  • FY2021 Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Program
  • FY2021 Family Drug Court Program
TTA Collaborative Updates
National Association of Drug Court Professionals
RISE21 Registration and Housing Now Open

Registration for the world’s preeminent conference on addiction, mental health and justice reform is now open. Secure your spot and discounted hotel rates today at The conference takes place August 15-18, 2021 in National Harbor, Maryland – just outside Washington, D.C. Hurry! Hotel space, as always, runs out soon!
Webinar: Mitigating Trauma in the Courthouse by Understanding Changes to the Brain

Join NADCP March 11 at 2 p.m. ET for a 90-minute live webinar on the science behind substance use and trauma in the brain. Treatment court judge and neuropharmacology expert Judge Kim McGinnis takes viewers through the science of brain change in those experiencing substance misuse or trauma. With time permitting, the speaker will answer questions from viewers.
Center for Court Innovation
The COVID-19 pandemic forced courts across the country to close their physical doors and rely exclusively on video conferencing technology. While some courts used video for decades, there is very little empirical research on the use and impact of video in courtrooms. A scan of social science research shows that communicating over video can alter an interaction, making it more difficult for participants to understand each other, speak up, and relate to each other. The widespread use of video court was borne out of necessity during the pandemic. Given the high stakes of the criminal courtroom, particularly when an individual’s liberty is at risk, policy makers and system actors must be hypervigilant when making decisions about video’s continued use following the public health crisis. This paper, “How Video Changes the Conversation: Social Science Research on Communication Over Video and Implications for the Criminal Courtroom,” presents social science research to inform the long-term debate about video’s role when courts can safely reopen.
Tribal Law & Policy Institute
TLPI is pleased to offer a collection of publications addressing law and policy issues closely related to Tribal-State court collaborations. Be sure to check out our Walking on Common Ground project for more information on Tribal-State court collaborations.
Featured State

Idaho has 68 drug or mental health treatment courts spread across 38 counties, including ones focused on juveniles, driving under the influence, domestic violence and veterans. A decade of research within the state points to their potential to reduce crime by lowering conviction rates, improving substance abuse treatment outcomes, reuniting families, and producing measurable cost benefits.

The Idaho Supreme Court has recently taken several actions to strengthen these courts. Following an important change in nomenclature from “problem-solving courts” to “treatment courts,” the Court approved the use of Idaho Treatment Court Best Practices Standards Volumes I & II for all adult court types. In addition, the Court approved the development and implementation of a comprehensive quality assurance plan that ensures within three years, all treatment courts will receive detailed data dashboards, have the opportunity to be certified or work toward certification if necessary, benefit from a peer review, and have time to work on standards. To assist with the implementation of Idaho Juvenile Drug Treatment Court Guidelines and the subsequent quality assurance of the juvenile treatment courts, Idaho is benefiting from technical assistance from the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Lastly, in 2019, Idaho has conducted a statewide outcome evaluation for 11 mental health courts that demonstrated a reduction in recidivism as compared to an adequate comparison group of probationers with the same characteristics. The study found recidivism for participants (34%) was lower than that for a comparison group (43%). Recidivism rates for mental health court participants decreased as risk scores increased; the highest risk participants had the lowest rate of felony recidivism (7%). Links to the last five statewide outcome evaluations for felony drug courts, juvenile drug courts, and DUI courts are found here.
In Other News
West Virginia drug court graduate Stuart Gibson highlights the issue of felony records in seeking employment even after completing drug court, and emphasizes the importance of record expungement while moving forward in recovery and rejoining communities.

Ohio is launching a program to facilitate communication between the Ohio Supreme Court and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy to identify and monitor pharmaceutical abuse and appropriate prescribing practices using input from adult drug court participants. The program, funded by the Department of Justice, is the first of its kind.

A Hawaii drug court participant used his skills during community service hours to construct a park bench, saying, “The whole thing was to make it inviting. To stop and sit down and take a moment … to be in the moment, because that’s what they teach us in recovery.” Brandon Lum Won installed the bench with the help of state drug court coordinator Grayson Hashida and other community members.