Racial Disparities in Drug Court Graduation Rates: The Role of Recovery Support Groups and Environments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of Social Work Practice in the Addictions

Publication Date


Date Added



There are more than 3,000 drug courts in the United States, and research has demonstrated that, in some drug courts, African American participants are less likely to graduate than their White counterparts. Quantitative studies have documented the problem, but qualitative studies are needed to develop an in-depth understanding of this phenomenon through participants’ experiences. This qualitative study asked African American participants (n = 31) about their lived experiences in drug court to develop insight into the factors that might contribute to racial disparities in drug court outcomes. African Americans had favorable views toward both mandated and natural recovery support groups, and they felt that participating in these support groups increased their likelihood of graduating drug court. Conversely, African Americans felt that a barrier to graduating drug court was their environments, mainly risk factors posed by family, neighborhoods, and peers. Implications for drug court practice are discussed.




Social Work