Drug Courts Work — how they work and why — and why they are necessary

Drug courts and other specialty courts (mental health, veterans, etc) are effective.  Here is but one example of an actual message received from a former participant in the 33rd Judicial District Court’s Drug Court program which I created in 2005: Continue reading “Drug Courts Work — how they work and why — and why they are necessary”

Truly amazing things I’ve heard and learned

For the time being, the “how, where and why” of these things will be a secret. In the busy rush of life we all tend to lack the “quiet time” to reflect on matters that are really simple, fundamental truths of life. Then serendipity steps in and we get slapped with such as:

  • When I’m law-abiding, things just fall into place.
  • I need friends to talk to.
  • It’s really nice being law-abiding and not having to look over my shoulder all the time.
  • I have to forgive myself before I can move forward.
  • I have to take life one day at a time.
  • Family is important.
  • It’s hard to deal with people I’ve wronged and ask forgiveness.
  • I have to first be honest with myself.
  • When I’m sober my concentration is better.
  • If nothing changes, nothing changes.
  • To get your life right, you have to have a change of heart.
  • It’s easier to be law-abiding — you get more respect.
  • It takes a mother to hold a family together.
  • I really need meetings (more on that later).
  • If God got you this far, why would you not think he can take you the rest of the way?
  • You have to stop and render aid — not just at traffic accidents.
  • There really are people who care about you and your problems but sometimes you have to ask for help.
  • Trust is important and you have to be trustworthy yourself in order to trust others.
  • I can’t do it on my own.
  • Every time I do the right thing, God grants me favor.
  • I can’t just do whatever I want.
  • Don’t be judgmental — everyone has something to offer.
  • Whatever you’ve learned, you have to put it to use.
  • Attitude matters.

By now many of you have figured out a common denominator to these little gems of life — all were statements made by addicts. Drug and alcohol addicts. The meetings referred to were Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. The references to being law-abiding was “code” for being sober, i.e. free of drugs and alcohol.

This all occurred in one session, tonight, of the drug court over which it is my privilege to preside twice monthly. I only regret that we don’t have time to do it every week. Drug Court is for users, not dealers or meth cooks. It’s for people whom we believe deserve a chance to prove they can get clean and stay that way.  Tonight was a special night in a couple of respects.

For one, we had four people graduate from drug court. That means they successfully completed a minimum of a year in the process beginning with intensive outpatient therapy, then aftercare groups, and continuing with AA/NA meetings. They are intensely supervised and can become dehydrated with the frequency of urine samples and sometimes hair follicle tests. They must work through the AA 12-step program at least once, attend a victim impact panel, finish out with a “Staying Quit” course and, of course, face me twice monthly in addition to their probation officer.

The other truly special thing came when I asked each participant to share something they had learned, and here came all of these thoughts. Some shared briefly, others waxed long and occasionally eloquently. Two of them shed tears — one being a burly macho dude!

One participant was remanded to jail for 10 days due to a relapse of drug usage. This sanction is intended to get her attention. Ultimately, drug court is a pass/fail course. They either graduate or go to the pen. When relapses or other non-compliance occurs then sanctions are levied with increasing severity; and when it becomes apparent that the person can’t or won’t comply 100%, away they go.

It’s an interesting process to spend time twice a month with 30+ addicts. Overall we’re now running 80% success or better and helping a lot of formerly lost people become productive citizens.