Drug court helps 70 addicts into recovery
(CNS): Three men and one woman brought the total of people helped on the road to recovery by the Drug Court over the last five years to 70 when they graduated from the rehabilitation programme on Tuesday. The four non-violent offenders had all faced various criminal charges that brought the four individuals to the court in the first place but they were all dismissed by the chief magistrate as she congratulated them on their achievement at the 8th graduation the court has held. Alongside the awards, the four graduates were given gifts from the local Rotary clubs who sponsored the programme as well as the latest Blackberry phones from Digicel.
The three men and one woman who wished to retain their anonymity had faced charges relating to possession of cocaine, ganja consumption and possession and even theft and burglary. However, by passing through the rehabilitation programme the graduates' slates were wiped clean and they escaped convictions for those crimes by tackling their drug and alcohol problems, which were seen as the cause of their crimes.
The Drug Rehabilitation Court started in October 2007 and signalled a new approach to dealing with offenders with substance abuse problems in the criminal justice system. The aim of the DRC is to stop drug abuse and the associated crime with court-directed treatment and rehabilitation.
All of the graduates spoke about their gratitude for the programme and the help they had received to get clean and begin the road to recovery. One noted that the treatment-based programmes not only helped with the direct problem of drug misuse but the underlying cause of why she had turned to drugs.
Speaking about the programme’s success so far, the DRC co-ordinator Catherine Guilbard said the alternative court worked and to see 70 people helped by the programme since it started five years ago was a “remarkable achievement” for a small jurisdiction. She pointed to the combination of agencies involved in the rehab programme and described it as a team approached to a challenging situation.
Chief Magistrate Nova Hall commended the graduates for their achievement. “We provided the tools, but you did the work. You could not have reached this stage without your own efforts.”
A former graduate of the programme and a guest speaker for the graduation, Sidney Parchment, told the latest individuals that there would be challenges ahead but having been clean for almost three years, he said, “A life of sobriety is a lot easier than one of addiction.”
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