WILMINGTON — A past graduate of the Clinton County drug court said he was against being a participant at first and had to be talked into it.
At the You-Turn Recovery Docket (drug court) graduation ceremony Thursday, that same graduate Christopher Bricker served as the guest speaker and told the story of his life turn-around in which he feels the drug court program played a crucial part.
He began taking prescription pain pills after injuring a shoulder a second time and the pain got severe enough to affect his day-to-day living.
The medicine, said Bricker, felt like wonder pills. Not only was his pain gone, but he said his energy and personality were better than they’d been for quite a while.
The dosage got higher and the amount quickly went out of control, he recalled.
The prescription would run out and Bricker would go to the streets to find more.
He acknowledges he became physically and mentally dependent on narcotic pain medication, and couldn’t get a day started without them.
Spending money faster than he could make it, he started selling things in the house. He wound up unemployed, broke, and divorced.
And still the main thing he thought about was needing more pills, he admitted.
Bricker moved back to Clinton County and moved in with his parents. His prescription only lasted a couple weeks, and he started to go through withdrawal and often was sick.
One day he was in withdrawal and someone asked him whether he had ever tried heroin. Bricker remembers he hesitated for a long time, but “desperate people make desperate decisions,” he said Thursday.
Once he made the switch from pills to heroin, he never went back. He said the heroin “just took off and took off quick.”
He was admitted to a treatment center for six months, but two weeks before his scheduled release he broke out with shingles and was given morphine for pain.
Bricker said he let himself drift back to heroin, and subsequently police charged him with heroin possession.
That charge led him to drug court and its minimum 18-month program, where he spoke openly about things with counselors.
He said after a few months he let God into his life, and the more he prayed his heart out, the closer and stronger was his connection to God. As that connection got stronger, and with the help and support he was getting from the drug court, he was clean for more than a year.
However, on Valentine’s Day 2017 he was found overdosed in a car and was administered Narcan and revived. He still doesn’t know why that day he went astray.
On Thursday, speaking in the First Christian Church (Wilmington) before six new drug court graduates and others, Bricker could say he’s now been sober 954 days.
The new graduates are Ashley Huffman, Karissa Purcell Cox, Erin Garrett, Charles “Dustin” Rhinesmith, Caitlin Howell and Chelsea Sherwood.
It was an eventful evening for Sherwood. At the ceremony’s conclusion, Sherwood received and accepted a public marriage proposal made at the front of the church sanctuary.
For the graduation ceremony, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers gave a video greeting, and the church’s chancel and hand-bell choirs presented music.
Michael Newman, M.D., was recognized with the drug court’s Volunteer Award. Common Pleas Court Intervention Specialist Ken Houghtaling, who was retiring the next day, was recognized as the first-time awardee for the You-Turn Hall of Fame. And the local employer Ahresty was recognized for employing a number of recovering individuals.
You-Turn Recovery Docket participants are supervised by Clinton County Common Pleas Court Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck as the head of a treatment team that also includes court supervision officers and area alcohol and drug treatment providers.
To ensure accountability, participants are regularly and randomly tested for substance use, rewarded for meeting goals, and sanctioned for not meeting clearly stated obligations.
The public is encouraged to come to the drug court status-review sessions and be supportive. They are held on the third floor of the Clinton County Courthouse in the common pleas courtroom on the first and third Fridays of every month, starting at 1:30 p.m.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.