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Here are several things to get you started:

  1. Let the Tennessee Drug Court Administrator know you are interested in starting an adult recovery court. Her name is Liz Ledbetter and you can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 615-532-3411

  2. Make sure you have everyone at the table. Have a meeting that includes your local stakeholders and ensure everyone is on board. This includes at least your local elected officials (law enforcement, district attorney, mayor, members of your local commission, the judge who would preside over the court), but also the public defender, area treatment providers, mental health providers, large employers, the prevention coalition (if you have one), the faith community, vocational organizations, probation services, etc. This list could get pretty big, but you want to know up front where support lies and where barriers may exist. You won’t get a recovery court off the ground without support from the district attorney, and you want to know which providers are willing to work with you before it’s time to send someone to treatment!

  3. Visit a recovery court near you. Call TADCP or ask Liz Ledbetter which courts would be good for you to visit. We usually make suggestions based on where you are located, what court level you are, and other factors so that you can visit a program that could mentor yours.

  4. Research, research, research! There’s a lot of information out there, including implementation training that can set your new program up for a strong beginning. Visit www.nadcp.org, and check out the National Drug Court Institute, an NADCP arm and accessible on the main website. NDCI provides training and technical assistance for implementing and operations adult recovery courts.

  5. Determine funding resources. The 2003 Drug Court Act provided a small funding stream for recovery courts at the county level. A fee is assessed on all drug charges and a county with a recovery court can keep those fees for the recovery court to use. You will have to contact the county clerks office and the State Drug Court Administrator to find out how to begin using those funds.

    In addition, the Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) conducts a grant solicitation each year, and funding for implementation is usually a priority. Visit www.bja.gov for more information.

    The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (DMHSAS) receives an appropriation every year to fund many adult recovery courts in the state. While funding from that appropriation is not guaranteed, you can inquire about it by contacting the State Drug Court Administrator Liz Ledbetter at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 615-532-3411.

  6. Whether you are able to access national implementation training or not, you will need to go through some training and strategic planning to put your new program together. There are a variety of resources available to help you. Please contact TADCP at 615-939-2872 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can be a resource to support your efforts. Liz Ledbetter with DMHSAS is also able to help.