WILMINGTON — Once it was drug court participant Nicole’s turn to stand at the podium near the judicial bench, Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck remarked how it was a lot better this time than the last time he saw her.
He said he thought it would be better for her, rather than him, to tell the 20 other drug court participants sitting in the courtroom gallery what happened.
“Last week I had a relapse on fentanyl. Um, I don’t know, I think it was my mental health,” Nicole said.
After a day passed, she called You-Turn Recovery (drug court) Case Manager Jessica Harrington plus two service providers of hers and told them what she had done.
They contacted the judge who ordered that she be held, and Nicole spent parts of two days in jail.
“Mainly just to get your attention a little bit, and also because I was worried about the fentanyl. Because you can die, easily die [from fentanyl],” Rudduck said to her.
Noting fentanyl has hounded her over time, the drug court judge explained the jail time. “With you, and with fentanyl, I thought you needed a timeout, if you want to call it that.”
Harrington added, “We’re not out to get you. I don’t want to arrest you. … But you have an accountability to the court. I have an accountability to the court, and it [custody] keeps you alive, it keeps you safe in the meantime until we can get in front of the judge and create a plan.”
Both Rudduck and Harrington are happy that Nicole, as the judge put it, “didn’t run from us, you ran to us.”
Later in the drug court session, it was Megan’s first time as a participant in the twice-monthly status proceedings.
The judge told the people assembled in the courtroom he had wanted to admit Megan to drug court for months, adding she is “pretty stubborn, pretty strong-willed.”
Then Megan interjected, “Pretty scared.”
Rudduck said to her he is “not sure you’ve been honest with us in the past.”
Shortly after arriving at the podium, Megan started to cry and kept crying most of the time.
After a while the judge said, “Look, you and I have been working together a long time. And listen, this is a turning point for you, OK? I want you to think about that. It is. But you got to do the work. You’ve heard all the people that are succeeding.”
Megan was one of the last to interact with the judge during Friday’s session, and most of the preceding participants had positive reports, with several promoted to the next phase of the program.
At one point she said, “I do want the help. I do want it. I don’t want to run from it anymore. I really really don’t.”
Trent Conger, who is scheduled to graduate from the 18-month drug court program later this month, was asked whether there was anything he wanted to say to the group.
“Hang in there, it’s a better life,” said Conger.
Rudduck said he is aware Conger has friends who have noticed a difference in him.
The judge, for his part, said, “Part of it is believing you can do it, and not being afraid to tell the truth because that’s really, really important. And if you get knocked down, knowing you have a support group whether it’s the service providers or treatment team, who will try to help.”
Rudduck reminded Kyle Hargrave, who’s also set to graduate this month, that drug court is but one step, and that after graduating they may need support in the form of a peer mentor , a substance-abuse support group, church, or their family the rest of their life.
Jaime Woehrer talked about going to a recent weekend retreat at Butler Springs campground in Highland County where 160 women had gathered. She chaired one of the sessions, and the judge noted she is becoming an advocate of the drug recovery cause.
Rudduck told another participant that she has exceeded expectations, and that someone noticed how well she is doing and they want to join drug court, too.
Ashley Maynard was presented a Star Client award.
“This is like the first time I’ve been clean since I was 12. So it’s like a whole different universe for me,” said Maynard.
Maynard’s baby boy died since her contact began with drug court, said Harrington.
“I’m just super proud of you for everything you’ve undertaken including continuing to process your grief, taking care of your children, taking care of your sobriety and your mental health,” the case manager said.
The judge told Robert McBee, who advanced to drug court’s next phase, to remember to not be defined by his past. McBee’s service provider said he is a self-starter who is working ahead on the workbook and asks questions about things that need clarifying.
McBee recently bought a house and presently is buying furniture.
Macy Evans was promoted to the next phase. Her family including her mother were there in the gallery.
When the judge invited comment from attendees, Evans’ mother related that in an email to Harrington she told the case manager the support that’s been shown for Macy is amazing.
“I want to say thank you for keeping it [drug court] up. Because you are helping these people and my daughter is one of them, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said the mother.
Rudduck responded, “Do I get a gift certificate?”, a joking allusion to the drug court’s practice of presenting a gift card when participants are promoted. It got a big laugh.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.