There is hope for those struggling with addiction, and a pair of presentations Thursday by the Highland County Probation Department and Family Recovery Services drove home that point for both the recreational and the hardcore user.
The Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition heard from Tonya Sturgill of the HCPD and Erin Holsted, FRS clinical director, at its mid-day meeting held at the North High Business Center.
Sturgill briefed those in attendance on what the probation department does and the services it offers, both from a legal and clinical standpoint, and said that hope for an addict’s recovery is what keeps her going every day.
“I tell them that because they’re still alive, and that this isn’t the end of their journey,” Sturgill said.
Part of their journey to recovery will start with Highland County’s new drug court, a specialized docket that will offer defendants charged with lesser drug crimes a chance at cleaning up their record through intensive reporting requirements, which Sturgill said was progressing rapidly through the application and qualification phase.
“I was surprised since Judge Coss submitted the application on March 19 and we’re already being looked at,” she said. “They’ve sent us some emails requesting some changes, so the paperwork isn’t just setting around up there, they’re really on it.”
Highland County Common Pleas Court Judge Rocky Coss said he is working on the first revision to correct drafting errors, inconsistencies and changes in standards that differed from the template he had used in the initial application.
“I started working on that process yesterday and hope to have it all done by next week,” Coss said. “Our date of Nov. 1 looks pretty promising.”
Coss said the new drug court will partner with residential treatment centers like Massie House near Belfast and the Lynn Goff Clinic in Greenfield, which provides residential treatment for women, as well as the Highland County Drug Abuse Prevention Coalition and REACH for Tomorrow, a Greenfield-based nonprofit.
Holsted’s presentation on the Randall Massie House took those in attendance on a virtual tour of the facility, which opened last August near Belfast and is a 16-bed men’s shelter designed to provide a sober, fully-staffed environment and allows men to complete 90 to 120 days of treatment and counseling.
“Addiction is no respecter of persons, it’s insidious and takes everything you have,” Holsted said. “So when folks come to us at that point, they’ve pretty much lost everything and they realize they’re at a crossroads where they have to make the decision of turning their life around, or deciding on what amounts to either jail or death since that’s where addiction leads.”
During her presentation she described the people that she came into contact with as being either in jail or near death, and said that hopefully with facilities like Massie House, they could then move to a functional place where they could maintain sobriety and later become a productive member of society, get a job and take care of their family, and ultimately resolve their legal issues.
She was quick to point out that all was not “gloom and doom,” but proudly shined the spotlight on a 32-year-old man who was deep into addiction and has since turned his life around.
“This individual came to us and was sober for a short period of time before relapsing,” Holsted said. “He was incarcerated and then came back to us for treatment for a second time, worked really hard when he was with us, transitioned out into some outpatient care, goes to his meetings in the recovery community, and now has gotten a job with a company that is going to send him for training. He even built a house for himself on his own.”
Holsted said she’s had many success stories like his, but also several sad ones where people have relapsed and dropped out of treatment. She compared addiction to cancer, calling them both diseases.
“Addiction is a disease just like cancer, different yet similar, in that it’s insidious and hangs on to its victim,” she said. “But unlike cancer, there is a cure for addiction and you can recover from it, but that recovery doesn’t come easy. If they’re breathing, there is hope.”
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.