Troup County Drug Court Graduates Another Class
The Troup County Superior Drug Court recently celebrated the graduation of 23 more participants who are ready to move onto their lives without the devastating effects of drug abuse.
The graduation ceremony was held at the Troup County Government Center Jury Selection Room Monday afternoon.
The graduation speech was given by Kenneth Arnold, Chief Operations Officer with River Region Human Services, Inc.
Arnold has served over 26 years in drug counseling with an extensive background in Drug Court Treatment Programs. Arnold has been a member of the Duval County Drug Court for 23 years and been on the Clay County Drug Court steering committees since inception in 2000.
Arnold certainly has the credentials to address the outgoing drug court graduates, but he also has one more thing that might just inspire them to keep up with their efforts – 30 years of drug sobriety. Unlike Judge Michael Key or Drug Court Coordinator Denise Robinson, who oversee the program, Arnold started his journey in drug court on the other side as a recovering addict. Arnold explained that when he was young, he was just like most drug court participants, in a downward spiral of addiction, but by the Grace of God he was got into court sponsored narcotics recovery program.
It wasn’t easy though, when Arnold started he thought he would use the program to get off cocaine, but he fully intended to keep drinking and even planned to keep smoking marijuana. Fortunately, the program started to have its effect and he learned he needed to drop both to get fully clean.
Going to meetings and accountably partners really help turned Arnold’s life around, but they also helped start his eventual career. When the person leading one of his group meetings advised they were no longer going to be able to do so, he volunteered to take over for them. That began his nearly 30 year journey in helping others to recover from drug abuse.
Arnold joked that when he first started recovery, he planned on smoking a joint on his front porch when he retired at 65. He’s getting pretty close to 65 now, but he hasn’t smoked marijuana in decades. Now he has bigger plans, like attending the NCAA Final Four.
Arnold reminded the participants that addiction is not going to get any easier just because they graduated from drug court. They’re still going to have to work at it. Addiction doesn’t go away. There’s always a danger of relapse, so you have want to stay clean.
“It’s hard work, but it’s worth it,” noted Arnold. “You couldn’t pay me to go back to my life before recovery.”
For those unfamiliar with drug courts, the program is designed to offer sentencing alternatives to offenders whose offenses are related to drug addiction.
Participants go through a minimum 18-month program where they undergo treatment and lifestyle changes necessary to ends lives of addiction to dangerous drugs.
Although the program is on a voluntary basis, the participants do so in order to avoid jail time or other punishment.
The program often begins with treatment in a residential facility, where participants are required to attend several weekly meetings and intensive counseling. Participants are also required to submit to multiple drug tests per week, as well as attend regular meetings with Judge Key.
As the graduates will tell you, the program is no walk in the park. A rigorous life structure is necessary, but doesn’t make a recovering addict’s life easy. Most will say they initially hated it, but afterwards they have nothing but praise for the program.
The program seems to be working. Drug Courts reduce crime and saves money, but most importantly, they restore lives.
Three quarters of Drug Court graduates never see another pair of handcuffs. Most participants remain arrest- free for at least two years after completing the program.
Drug Courts are cheaper too. For every dollar invested in drug courts, the public saves over $3 in avoided criminal justice costs alone. Individually, the courts save from $3,000 to $13,000 per participant.
The program serves a limited number of defendants, so it’s very selective. No one with drug distribution charges is eligible. Persons with burglary, sex crime, or violent offense charges are also ineligible.
Applications for the program are available in the Felony Adult Drug Court office in the Troup County Government Center in La-Grange.