Law enforcement, treatment professionals and friends and family of former addicts gathered at the Hillsboro Municipal Courtroom Monday afternoon to congratulate seven people who have recovered from drug or alcohol addiction through the completion of Highland County’s Vivitrol program.
Tonya Sturgill, treatment coordinator for the Highland County Probation Department, said the Vivitrol injections, which generally cost $1,500 per month, are funded through a grant awarded to the probation department.
According to Sturgill, Vivitrol is an injectable drug that blocks cravings and the effects of opiates and alcohol in the human body. Those injected with Vivitrol can’t get intoxicated or high on opiates for 28 days.
Seven individuals, all of whom suffered from a substance abuse problem at one time, recently completed nearly two years of Vivitrol shots, satisfying the court’s requirement and “graduating” from court ordered treatment.
Hillsboro Municipal Court Judge David McKenna asked the five who were in attendance to sit in the jury box, and was greeted with laughter after he noted that the jury box is where prisoners ordinarily sit during regular court proceedings.
McKenna said each of the five had at one time sat in those seats as prisoners, but now sat there as regular citizens.
“This is an invitation to sit where the jurors sit, not the prisoners,” he said.
McKenna said to those in attendance who had just begun the Vivitrol program that the people who completed it prove there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.
To those sitting in the jury box, McKenna said, “You’re leaving that tunnel.”
“You’ve got time back in your life,” he said. “You’re not on a short, ticking clock anymore.”
As a reminder, McKenna gave each one a watch as a gift.
“You’ve come a long way, and we’re proud of you,” he said.
McKenna said the grant ended in June 30, but due to the success of the program, it was renewed for another 18 months.
Sturgill said the program wouldn’t have been possible without collaboration from local entities.
“There have been so many components that brought this program together,” Sturgill said, expressing her gratitude toward Family Recovery Services, Highland District Hospital, the probation department, the Highland County Sheriff’s Office, Highland County Job and Family Services and Hillsboro Municipal Court.
Reach David Wright at 937-402-2570, or on Twitter @DavidWrighter.