PARKERSBURG -Wood County Adult Drug Court provides help for individuals with a drug habit to get their life back on track.
"We provide them with the tools, but at the end of the day it's their choice whether they want to change their life," said Katherine L. Boggs, adult drug court coordinator/probation officer.
The local adult drug court has had 54 of 89 participants successfully graduate. The numbers include people who opted out of the program or were transferred to other programs usually to attend in-patient treatment. The program, which began in 2007, is one of 11 in the state.
"There was a huge need for substance abuse treatment, we were finding jails full of addicts, and we were looking for ways to solve the problems, give people a second chance," Boggs said. Not everyone charged with a drug related offense ends up in the drug court program.
"Our primary focus is on those who committed the crime in order to secure drugs or alcohol to feed their habit. The hope is by curbing addiction, we can reduce crime," Boggs said.
Referrals for the program come from the prosecutor's office, attorneys, police, social service agencies.
There are currently 26 clients in the program. The program can serve up to 40.
The program includes Boggs, counselors who teach classes and do case management, parenting groups, women's group, life skills and referral to Westbrook Health Services is made as needed. Wood Circuit Judge J.D. Beane is the judge, but it will be turned over to Donna Jackson, a Wood County magistrate who did not run for re-election.
Assessments are done on clients. A treatment team, which includes law enforcement, treatment officials, Boggs, the judge, probation officers, defense attorney and a local physician review each client's case.
Clients on the program are subject to random and frequent drug testing, home visits, some may be monitored electronically through the Home Confinement program if additional supervision is deemed necessary, they attend counseling, may receive assistance in getting a GED. They must have a job or be enrolled in school when they leave the program as part of their graduation requirements.
Committing another crime while on the program means automatic dismissal from the program.
"They are also placed on probation for at least one year after successful completion of the program," Boggs said.
Minimum time on the program is a year, some have been on it three years, the usual time is about 16 months.
"Some may be using drugs and or alcohol to mask abuse issues, and they may be referred for counseling," Boggs said. "If they don't comply with the requirements, violate the terms of the program, they are out. Relapse does happen, we understand that, but if behavior problems reach a certain level, at some point we may decide we just can't help them and the treatment team would decide to remove them from the program. It's immediate discharge from the program for any new crimes."
Most of the clients on the program have pleaded guilty, and they are sentenced once they complete the program.
"That's part of why drug court works, it's the hammer over their head to make sure they comply. They do need some coercion to stay and do this, fighting an addiction is one of the most difficult things I've ever witnessed.
They need a reason to stay, a reason to keep fighting every day. That reason may be as simple as if I don't comply, I'll go to prison," she said.
"Everyday I wake up with the fear that I'll lose one, that they will use again. The hope we can prevent that keeps me going. The idea that something I say or do will make them want to fight one day more. We want to save lives, we want to save families. If we help one, we help generations. If we can stop the cycle of addiction, then the next generation won't grow up in a home where there is addiction," Boggs said. "Some start as young as 13 or younger with prescription drugs they steal or alcohol they get from someone. We are seeing more prescription opiate use which sometimes leads to heroin addiction. It can escalate very quickly and I don't think a lot of kids realize what they are getting into.
"They are crying out for help. They are usually at rock bottom when they come to us, with no where to go.
"They've lost their family, their job, their children. If they don't control their addiction they won't survive, they know it means ending up in prison or death. We give them the opportunity, the tools, but it's still their choice. I can only control so much. Everyday they can go out and overdose. They can contact us 24 hours a day seven days a week if they need help, but at the end of the day it's still their choice," she said. "We take the worst of the worst, and we tell them they can change."