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Meth Series Story 4

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/methseries_1773.mp3

In this segment of KSMU's series on methamphetamine, Michele Skalicky looks at Greene County's Drug Court.

Clapping and background

Angie, a recovered drug addict received lots of applause from family and friends when she graduated from the Greene County Drug Court recently.

She says she didn't think she'd ever get to this point

Angie was raised in a family that used drugs. In high school, she started stealing them and using them with friends

Angie's mom, dad, brother, grandparents, her defense attorney, several friends and her children, ages 3, 4 and 5, were there to see her graduate

Angie says she might go back to college someday, and she hopes to share advice with those who want to get off drugs

Greene County's Drug Court started in 1998, after an effort by Judge Calvin Holden and others to bring it here. Drug Court Commissioner Judge Peggy Davis says it's a program designed to address the underlying issues that bring a criminal defender into the system. It brings all the necessary parties to the same table to help people change their lifestyle and return to the community as productive citizens

According to Davis, drug court participants are encouraged thru accountability and sometimes sanctions for bad behavior but also thru positive reinforcement for good behavior. A caseworker helps participants find housing and teaches them how to take care of themselves, something many of them have never done. Drug Court is a minimum of 18 months and requires frequent reporting to a probation officer and an intensive treatment program designed around the participant's needs. Peggy Davis says participants must be employed and must undergo random drug testing

There's immediate consequences for breaking the rules. Davis hopes that kind of guidance will help those going thru Drug Court gain the skills they need to be successful

According to Davis, the key is long-term treatment that drug Court is able to keep people in as well as support in life style choices. But she says Springfield and Greene County need more treatment options and more treatment dollars

Despite the need for more treatment dollars, Davis says to her knowledge only 3 out of the 193 people who have graduated from Drug Court to date have new felonies. She says she's glad to be part of helping people kick the meth habit

Davis and her team will continue working hard to fight meth addiction, but they'll never completely win the battle

But Davis continues to focus on the success stories--like Rhonda's. She ended up in Greene County's Drug Court about 6 years ago after getting busted for drugs and thrown in jail

Rhonda started doing drugs after graduating from high school as a way to try to fit in and be accepted. She used several different kinds of drugs including methamphetamine, pot and alcohol, but she says they made her life chaotic

Rhonda graduated from drug court 4 and a half years ago and has since gotten married and has step kids and grandkids. She and her husband own their own business, and she says life is good now

This program and others in the KSMU meth series are available on the web at ksmu.org. For KSMU, I'm Michele Skalicky.