Policies & Information

We have included basic Sarasota County Drug Court Opioid Track Information that you will need to know to be successful while in Drug Court Opioid Track. If you have any questions, please ask your primary counselor. It is also good to know that some rules and practices change from time to time.


Welcome to the Sarasota County Drug Court Opioid Track. This handbook is designed to answer any questions you may have and to help guide you through the Treatment Court process. Staff understand that you may be somewhat unsure about your decision, but we are here to help you successfully reach your goal.

The Sarasota County Opioid Court has been enhanced to help people with substance abuse issues address co-occurring disorders and/or health issues when they are released from jail.

You have been offered treatment because you have been arrested and your criminal behavior has been determined to be drug related; in other words, you have a substance abuse problem, and it is contributing to your criminal behavior.

Opioid Court provides judicial supervision while giving you an opportunity to receive treatment for your substance abuse behavior. In essence, this treatment program has been designed to help you obtain a crime-free and drug-free lifestyle.

This handbook will provide you with an overview of the program, rules, goals, and expectations. If there is anything you do not understand or have questions about, do not be afraid to ask for clarification.

As a Drug Court participant, you will be expected to follow the instructions given by the Judge and Treatment team.

Welcome to the Sarasota County Drug Court Opioid Track. We wish you all the best!


Your participation in the Drug Court Opioid Track Program is completely voluntary. You will determine whether you are successful.

Opioid Court is designed to help you confront and overcome various obstacles in your treatment. Your program requirements will decrease as you advance in the program. Two requirements will remain consistent: to be crime free and drug free; these are two non-negotiables in this program.

The Sarasota County Drug Court Opioid Track is designed to be completed in one year, but this time may be prolonged due to lack of progress in the program. Participants will be required to reach certain milestones to advance phases, these requirements will be reviewed by you and your assigned primary counselor. Once you have reached certain milestones, it is important you maintain these milestones, so you do not add time to your stay in Opioid Court.

Opioid Court is a combination of judicial supervision and treatment. As a result, you will be required to report before the court on a regularly scheduled basis while also participating in treatment. It is important that you talk with your primary counselor to schedule all your appointments to include group treatment, AA/NA meetings, one-to-one (1:1) treatment, urine testing, as well as court sessions. Completion of these responsibilities will result in you maintaining your freedom as well as your progression through the program.

How it Works

When you enter into Opioid Court, you will be assigned a primary counselor. Your counselor is your “go to” person. This is the person who will make recommendations to the Team regarding your progress in the program. Your primary counselor will schedule individual, one-on-one treatment sessions where you will discuss issues related to your substance abuse behavior. You will also be provided with a schedule of activities and requirements; it is your responsibility to plan and complete all required program activities. It is very important for you to call our office if you are having problems completing your requirements. This may not keep you from receiving a sanction, but your cooperation will be taken into consideration.

Drug testing is a key component, and you will be required to provide urine samples on a regular basis. Failure to report will be viewed as an unexcused drop and will be treated as a positive urine sample. Once again, if you have unforeseen problems, do not hesitate to call us to let us know. As previously stated, calling in does not relieve one of his or her duties, but it will be taken into consideration if any sanctions are given.

Instructions for New Participants

Welcome to the Sarasota County Drug Court Opioid Track Program. This program is designed to assist non-violent substance abusers that are charged with one or more specific felonies. Court is held on the following days and times at the locations listed below.

Drug Court Hearings Days & Times

Drug Court hearings are every Tuesday at 10AM in Courtroom 3A (on the 3rd floor) of the Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34237. Free parking is available in the parking garage, two blocks east of the judicial center.

By the time you are given this instruction sheet you should have already been told when and where to report to start in the Drug Court Program. Call one of the following Drug Court Administration or Supervision Staff to confirm the details of your appointment as soon as you arrive home and continue making the effort to contact them until you have actually spoken to one of them. On some occasions, there may be a need to reschedule your orientation appointment.

You should become well acquainted with your treatment counselor. It is very important for participants to show up drug and alcohol free. You will be tested frequently.

Drug Court Administration & Supervision Staff

Drug Court Treatment Staff

Opioid Court Terms & Activities

The following are terms commonly used by people in the Drug Court Opioid Track Program. Some of you have never heard many of the terms or may recognize them in a different setting. The purpose of this section is to help you understand some of the words used and understand many of the required activities of the program. If you have any questions, please contact a staff member for clarification.

Case Management: Case Management is when staff works to make sure you get services you need besides group and individual sessions. Case management includes housing, employment, education, anger management, and other services. While Drug Court does not provide these services directly, they will help you succeed not only in Drug Court, but in life. Our Case manager will work with your primary counselor or other Drug Court staff in obtaining these services if available.

Confidentiality: Confidentiality means privacy and refers to not talking about program issues outside of the Drug Court setting. This means if you hear someone say something in a group setting about an issue they have, you cannot discuss this outside of the Drug Court. It simply means what happens in Drug Court, stays in Drug Court.

Counseling: Counseling occurs when you talk about your problems or issues related to your substance abusing behavior. Counseling may happen in group or alone with your primary counselor. In each phase, you will be required to attend a certain number of counseling groups and one-on-ones. Your primary Counselor is the person to whom you are assigned to discuss issues during participation in the program.

Fees: Fees are the costs you pay to participate in the Drug Court. As a condition of this diversion program, each participant in Drug Court pays $15 per week to the Clerk of the Court to participate in the Sarasota County Drug Court. Payments are payable to the Clerk of the Court, at 2000 Main St. (Old Historical Court House). You may need a photo ID and may pay in the form of check, cash, money order, or credit card. You are to turn in your receipt to the Treatment Court Office by 12pm Friday of each week. Participants may perform public service hours in lieu of payment at a rate of $15 an hour.

Groups: Groups are when two or more people meet with a counselor or therapist to discuss issues related to their substance abusing behavior. Issues may include family, career, education, free time, etc. In each phase, participants are required to perform a certain number of groups each week. Participants are required to attend three groups weekly.

Nurse Practitioner: A Nurse Practitioner is a medical professional with an advanced nursing degree. The Nurse Practitioner can diagnose certain psychological disorders as well as provide medication to treat these disorders. The Nurse Practitioner may also refer the participant to a specialist to receive more specific treatment. All participants will be required to see the Nurse Practitioner.

Probation: Probation is a form of legal supervision where a person who has committed a crime is allowed to continue to live in the community while being supervised by an Officer of the FL Department of Corrections. While on probation there are certain restrictions placed upon the person which the officer will go over with you. If you break or violate any of these restrictions, you may be violated and placed in jail. Your Probation Officer (PO) will go over all requirements with you during your first visit with her or him.

Public Defender’s Office: The Public Defender’s Office (PD) provides legal representation to people who are unable to pay for a private lawyer. Many Drug Court participants are represented by the PD’s Office. If you are unsure if you are represented by the PD’s Office, please discuss this issue with the Drug Court Judge to ensure you are represented legally.

Public Service: Public service is when you work at a local, non-profit organization to complete certain program requirements. Public service may be used as a sanction and an incentive. As a sanction, it may be assigned due to not completing certain phase requirements or the failure to complete other phase requirements. As an incentive, it may be assigned to help a person pay their fees in the event of the loss of a job or inability to pay.

Recovery Meetings: Recovery meetings, also known as self-help or AA/NA meetings, are held at various locations in the community. All participants are required to attend a minimum of ONE RECOVERY MEETING daily for the first 90 days. You may choose the meeting which works best for you. This is also where you will find your sponsor for the program.

Relapse Group: Relapse group is a specialized group for Drug Court Participants who have a positive urine test. Participants are required to attend relapse group(s) for positive urine tests whether or not a jail sanction is received.

Sanction: A sanction is an action the Judge takes in relation to your progress or lack of progress in the program. If a person tests positive on a urine test, the sanction may include public service, jail, or some other action the Judge orders. The idea is that a sanction is in response to your progress in the program.

Sponsor/Recovert Coach: A sponsor or a recovery coach is someone in recovery from drugs and or alcohol abuse or addiction and has at least two-years “clean” time. The sponsor is someone you meet at a recovery group who agrees to help you when you are having problems keeping away from drugs or alcohol. Your sponsor must call the Drug Court program to let us know he or she has agreed to work with you. Your sponsor must be the same gender (sex) as you are.

Program Specifics

If you are unable to attend any scheduled function, it is your responsibility to call the Treatment Court Office and speak with your primary Counselor or some other Drug Court staff if your primary Counselor is unavailable. If you are excused from any Drug Court activity to include court hearings, urine samples, groups, or meetings, you will be required to provide documentation to verify your circumstances.
It is important to dress appropriately when attending Drug Court functions such as court hearings, groups, and one-on-one counseling sessions. No clothing advertising drugs, alcohol, or sex may be worn to the Treatment Court Office and is prohibited when attending court sessions. Dress is to be moderate. This means clothing is not to be excessively tight or form fitting. Shorts, skirts, and dresses are not to be excessively short so as to be distractive. Drug Court staff has the right to turn you away if your attire does not meet the appropriate standards.
Drug Court participants are expected to monitor their behavior both in and out of the program. While at the Treatment Court Office or during court hearings, participants are expected to be considerate of the Judge, the Drug Court staff, as well as other Drug Court participants. Behavior that may be perceived as threatening or disrespectful will not be tolerated. A failure to keep one’s behavior appropriate may result in a sanction from the Judge to include termination.
Electronics such as cell phones, iPads, etc., must be turned off in both court proceedings and groups. Headphones are not allowed in either activity.
Food and Drinks
You are not allowed to eat, drink or chew gum while in Court or the group room. Please dispose of these items before you enter the Offices or Courtroom.
The Treatment Court Office is closed on certain holidays; you will be notified in advance of these holidays and are excused from all Drug Court activities during those times.
Visitors are not allowed to enter the Treatment Court Office areas. A visitor may sit in the waiting area until you have completed your business here. You may bring visitors to court with you, but all visitors are subject to the same rules as Drug Court Participants.
Sarasota County Drug Court provides free parking.
It is the responsibility of all Drug Court participants to be on time for all Drug Court activities. If you know you will be late, please call the Treatment Court Office to notify staff.
Zoom Etiquette
Reduce or eliminate background noise; do not consume food during the Zoom Hearing; mute the session unless speaking; be aware and alert of surroundings that might create background noise or a lack of privacy relating to sensitive discussions; turn off or mute other electronic devices that may create interruptions or distractions (e.g., mobile phones or notification settings with audible alerts); avoid “backlighting” by having a light source coming from the direction of the screen and camera towards the participant

Medication & Other Substances

Some of the information in this section is found in other parts of this handbook, but this information is so important, we want you to be able to quickly access it so that you will know what to do in the event you are prescribed or use certain valid medications.

It is important that you tell us when you are prescribed any medications by your doctor or when you are taking any over-the-counter medication. Following this rule helps us gauge your willingness to receive treatment and will also help us not assign a positive to a urine sample that you submit.

Illegal drugs are not permitted and are not to be taken by any Drug Court participant. This includes drugs such as cocaine, heroin, prescription drugs that are not yours, marijuana, kratom and other manufactured substances, etc.

Alcohol, while legal, is not allowed to be consumed by Drug Court participants. Use of alcohol violates Drug Court program rules, and you will be sanctioned for its use.

Psychiatric medications are allowed, but you must see our contracted Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) to ensure you are taking your medication properly. The ARNP will be able to answer any questions you have about your medications and possible side effects and may also be able to offer a more affordable alternative.

Other prescribed medications such blood pressure medication, antibiotics and such are allowed, but once again, it is important that you provide us with a copy of your most recent prescription, so we are aware that you are taking these medications.

You may take over-the-counter medications, but you must communicate with staff as some over-the-counter products are banned from the program, i.e., Nyquil, Sudafed, mouthwash. You must call staff and bring in the bottles or boxes ASAP for all such products. Many over-the-counter medications are abused for their effects.

It should also be noted, the use of over-the-counter medications are for short-term use. If you have persistent symptoms, we recommend you see a doctor or the ARNP for a more complete diagnosis.

Supplements such as vitamins, herbs, and minerals are allowed, but as with medications, should be taken with care. Many supplements may have side effects when taken with prescribed medications. Please let staff know that you are taking a supplement.

Graduation & Prescribed Narcotics: Drug Court participants shall not be allowed to graduate while on narcotics. While the Drug Court recognizes there are times when a physician may prescribe narcotics to their patients, the goal of Drug Court is to help you learn how to function without dependence upon drugs and alcohol. In light of this philosophy, if you receive a prescription for narcotic medication within 90 days of your graduation, you must have at least 30 days of clean time prior to graduating from the Drug Court. The risk for abuse of narcotics is too great for the program to allow you to leave while utilizing these medications. It is imperative that you request a non-narcotic alternative when you visit your doctor.

Phase Requirements

Phase I: 90 days

  • Attend Drug Court appearances weekly (via Zoom)
  • Attend three therapy groups per week (weekly Opiate Track Group is mandatory)
  • Attend one scheduled Case Management session per week
  • Scheduled Drug Testing (drug testing is required every Monday, Wednesday and Friday)
  • Attend one 12-step meeting [90/90] per day (NA/AA)
  • Pay or work off program fees in community service work hours monthly ($60 per month/$15 per week)
  • Word with Recovery Coach and SOS Team as needed

Phase II: 90 days

  • Attend Drug Court appearances bi-weekly (via Zoom)
  • Attend two therapy groups per week
  • Attend one scheduled individual therapy session with counselor bi-weekly
  • Attend bi-weekly Case Management sessions
  • Random urinalysis (call UA line daily and drop on days your assigned number is called)
  • Attend three 12-step meetings per week (NA/AA)
  • Pay or work off program fees ($60 per month/$15 per week) in CSW hours monthly
  • Work with Recovery Coach and SOS Team as needed

Phase III: Move to Drug Court Phase III

  • See Drug Court Case Manager for Phase 3 requirements, Intake, Drug Court handbook, etc.
  • Re-assignment to a Drug Court counselor

Program Rules & Regulations

The following rules and regulations will apply to all persons involved in the Sarasota County Drug Court Opioid Track Program:

  • Use and/or possession of alcohol, drugs or paraphernalia on County or treatment program property may result in dismissal from this program.
  • Prescription and/or non-prescription drugs, or any type “over-the-counter” medication are not allowed on the premises without prior permission from program staff. It is the Client’s responsibility to notify the counselors and the lab technicians of all medications the Client may be taking, including prescribed medications. all non-prescription medications must be cleared through the counselors, and a record put into the Client’s file prior to consumption.
  • Possession of weapons, knives, glass items, aerosol cans, sharp objects, or any other contraband that may cause injury to clients or others is prohibited on County or treatment program property and may result in dismissal.
  • Clients are responsible for all personal belongings at all times.
  • Clients must personally contact program staff prior to being late or absent from any Drug Court activity. Failure to personally contact program staff will be considered a “no show”. “no shows” for drug screens are considered “positive drug screens” a.k.a. “positive drop”.
  • Dilutedsamples are also considered positive drug screens a.k.a. positive drop.
  • Chronic absences or tardiness may result in sanctions or dismissal from the program.
  • No Client phone calls will be made from treatment court office. Calls can be made from the courtesy phone in the lobby.
  • Clients are not allowed to leave groups, Drug Court hearings or other program activities before scheduled dismissal, except in case of emergency, without prior approval. Clients on Silver and Gold Teams may leave Drug Court hearings early (when dismissed) as a privilege.
  • Appropriate dress is always required. Revealing attire, caps and sunglasses will not be worn during program activities or drug court hearings. Clothing promoting the use of alcohol or drugs is not allowed. Jackets, purses, and other non-essential personal items will not be allowed into the “Drop” areas. Clients may want to leave all valuables at home or in their cars, rather than leaving these items unsupervised. Drug court staff will not be held responsible for any lost, stolen or misplaced items.
  • Smoking/vaping and consumption of food, drink or chewing gum will not be allowed while participating in program activities, in group rooms, or attending court hearings. There is absolutely no food, drink or chewing gum permitted in the courtroom.
  • Cell phones, iPods, iPads, headsets, etc., are not to be used on the court or program premises. Turn cell phones off or set to vibrate during Drug Court hearings or group therapy.
  • Clients are responsible for adequate cleanup of program and court areas before departure.
  • Visitors/guests will not be allowed to attend scheduled program activities with the Client unless the activity is specialized for family or “significant other”. However, Clients are encouraged to bring adult family members or “significant” other to attend Drug Court hearings.
  • Childcare is the responsibility of the client. Children may not attend any program activity. You are not to leave your children unattended in the lobby of the treatment court office. If there is a special need, let your counselor know, and arrangements may be made.
  • Clients are expected to treat their peers and staff members with respect. Comments referring to race, color, creed, religion, etc., in a negative or demeaning manner, will not be tolerated. Profanity and vulgar language are prohibited.
  • Clients will not be permitted to loiter in their cars, on program or court property, or outside therapy rooms before, during or after program activities. Clients are expected to arrive promptly and be prepared with necessary materials to participate fully in all activities. Upon arrival, the Client must sign in for all appointments, such as one-on-ones (1:1), group meetings and urine drops. Failure to sign in for a urine drop may result in a “no show,” which is considered a positive drug screen result. All Clients waiting to drop or see counselors should check in with the receptionist and wait in the lobby area until directed to go back. Clients should not go back to drop or see a counselor until asked to do so.
  • Clients are expected to keep agreed upon fees current as documented in any or all program court agreements. These fees are usually payable to the Clerk of Court and due on a weekly basis. The receipts for these payments should be given to a counselor or filed at the treatment court office on a weekly basis, no later than the designated time and day of any given week. These receipts will not be accepted if they are handed to a counselor in court to prove payment.
  • Clients are required to attend a specific number of outside meetings per week, NA, AA, CA, etc., and keep appropriate documentation showing dates, times, topic, and where the meeting was held. Each meeting must be signed off or confirmed by the person running the meeting. This documentation, like fee-payment receipts, are to be filed or given to a counselor no later than the designated time and day, on any given week. Falsification of meetings will result in a sanction by the court.
  • A bulletin board will be provided in the lobby area for a copy of all information and schedule changes.
  • No client may take narcotic medication, this includes prescriptions. If you have a special circumstance your medication must be approved by the Director.
  • You must inform and provide the lab technicians of any medication you are taking.
  • Please note: If you are arrested and any new charges are filed by the State Attorney's Office, you will face possible termination from the Drug Court Program.

Urinalysis Rules & Regulations

Clients are responsible for:

  • Specific U/A Rules & Procedures
  1. You will be required to provide urine samples multiple times during the week.
  2. It is your responsibility to arrive on time to provide a urine sample for testing on the day your number is chosen. If an emergency arises, you are responsible to call this office to make other arrangements. Only the Program Director can excuse you.
  3. When arriving to provide a urine sample, you are to notify staff in the lab.
  4. Prior to providing your sample, you will be provided with a cup. It is your responsibility to check the cup to ensure your name and proper date is on the cup. Once this information is verified, you will initial the label to indicate you have checked the label.
  5. When entering the appropriate bathroom (male/female) to provide a urine sample, you are not to take anything into the bathroom besides basic clothing. There are to be no coats, purses or bulky clothing items taken into the bathroom.
  6. All urine samples will be monitored by staff. You are to stand or sit in a manner that staff can clearly observe the sample entering the sample cup.
  7. Once you arrive to provide a urine sample, you are not to leave until you have provided a valid sample. Failure to remain until you have provided a valid sample may result in you receiving a “positive” urine screen.
  8. If you provide a sample that is “dilute”, it will result in you receiving a “Positive” urine screen. If you have questions regarding dilutes, please see your Case Manager.
  9. There is a 4-minute time limit for each attempt to provide a urine sample.
  10. If you are unable to provide a urine sample, there are specific “wait times” in between each attempt. You will be required to wait at least 15 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes and one hour. Each client will be given five (5) attempts per day to provide a urine sample.
  11. If the court thinks you are falsifying your urine samples or tampering with another participant’s sample, you may be subject to a severe sanction and/or termination from the program.
  12. It is your responsibility to notify the lab technician of any medications you have been prescribed prior to you providing a urine sample. Failure to do so may result in a sanction due to the outcome of the test.

Words to the Wise

Please review this packet from time to time, it can help you progress through the program and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact a staff member to answer any of your questions. You must also remember, the program changes from time to time, so this is a guide to help you understand the basics of the program. Some things never change such as making sure you complete all program requirements and testing negative on your urine samples.

The staff of the Sarasota County Opioid Track wishes you much success during your time in the program and in your life. It is our hope that you will use this as an opportunity to truly turn your life around.

Special Announcements

Unexpected closures of the Treatment Court Office and special announcements will be on the recorded drop line message and updated daily. The drop line number is 941‑861‑8189. You must call every day by 12PM.

Drug Court: At-A-Glance

Drug Court/Opioid Court Hearings

Tuesdays, 10am
Courtroom 3A, 3rd Floor, Judge Lynn N. Silvertooth Judicial Center, 2002 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34237

Office Hours

Monday-Friday: 7am – 5pm

Main Line: 941-861-8120
Fax: 941-316-1637

Urinalysis Hours

Drop Line: 941‑861‑8189

Monday-Friday (Sarasota): 7am – 5pm

Must arrive at office by 4:30pm

Monday-Friday (Venice): 8:30am – Noon

If you are on random drops, you must call daily between 6am and 12pm to check if your assigned number has been called. If you are on scheduled drops, you must provide a sample between the hours of 7am-4:45pm on your assigned day(s). You must be in the office by 4:30pm to provide a valid sample. Our office closes at 5pm.

Drug Court Staff

Judge: Hon. Lon Arend
Drug Court Program Director: Rachel Lane
Opioid Court Case Manager: Dori Donovan
State Attorney's Office: Craig Schaeffer
Public Defender's Office: Terry Drake
Probation and Parole: Ian Lear, Amanda Hernandez
Lab Techs: Carlos Tavera (Lead), Rona Grant, Kevin Lee
Clinical Supervisor: Brittany Henson