WILMINGTON — Seven individuals were recognized for making a “You-Turn” in their lives at a drug court graduation ceremony.
The seven graduates, all of whom spoke briefly, are: Maurice “Todd” Estep, Jacob “Jake” Odom, Racheal Roberts, Tosha Salisbury, Stephanie Spencer, Christopher Stanfield and Jeremy Wallace.
The Clinton County You-Turn Recovery Docket provides defendants an opportunity to address their substance dependency issues with support from the judge, probation officers, substance abuse counselors and other members of a treatment team. An 18-month program, participants must follow specific rules established by the court in an effort to achieve recovery from addiction.
Roberts introduced herself as an alcoholic addict, and thanked everyone for being nice to her on her journey.
“It’s been very, very hard for me,” said Roberts. She later said it’s really hard to let go of something you love.
She lost a brother to a drug overdose, she said.
“I still struggle with some things, but I think I’ve came really really far, and I’m really proud of myself,” said Roberts as she started to cry and as the audience began loud applause. The ceremony was held in the sanctuary of the Wilmington Church of Christ, with an audience estimated at 200.
Common Pleas Court Intervention Specialist Ken Houghtaling introduced Odom whom he has worked with on a second track of the drug court called “Fresh Start.” People addicted to drugs often have a hopeless state of mind and body, said Houghtaling.
“They find themselves struggling with something much bigger than they are, and Jake’s a pretty big guy,” said Houghtaling, inserting a lighter moment like recovery docket Case Manager KáShira Myburgh did several times during her introductions of graduates.
Odom said his April 2015 overdose — a first for him in using drugs — “just scared the crap out of me.”
He stole money to acquire drugs but now is doing more positive things in his life including attending Southern State Community College, with plans to go to Arizona State University.
“The thing that makes me the happiest is that I see all of you people here and you’re all proof there’s people who care about us. I mean if it wasn’t for all of you we would either be dead or still using,” said Odom.
Stanfield said, “It’s been a long haul for me in a lot of different ways. And it still is, and probably will be for a while.” His mother-in-law checked in with him every day during his drug court program, said Stanfield. He also thanked the probation officers and Clinton County Common Pleas Judge John W. “Tim” Rudduck who presides over the drug court.
Myburgh said she admires Salisbury because once Salisbury learned she was pregnant, she quit drugs. Myburgh added she knew it wasn’t necessarily easy even with the new motivation.
Rudduck and probation staffers received many thank-you’s during the graduates’ remarks, as did those family and friends who stood by them through it all.
U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) did a video for the graduation ceremony. He told the graduates their achievement was earned not given, and he hopes their commitment to recovery will serve as an example and inspiration to others.
The senator spoke of a recovery act he authored that became law last year. He said, “perhaps most importantly, it helps remove the stigma surrounding addiction by treating addiction like the disease it is, rather than as a moral failing.”
The front lines for addressing and solving the drug crisis is at the local level, said the senator. He added it’s going to take strength from those in recovery and support from those in the community.
Later Rudduck said he agreed with Portman that the problem will not be solved in the nation’s or state’s capitals, but rather locally.
The You-Turn Recovery Docket program may not work in Cincinnati or other urban areas, said Rudduck. But he said he knew the Clinton County community and he knew the people of faith here. The judge previously has said members of the faith community have been a big part of the success of the You-Turn Recovery Docket.
The judge encouraged the public to come to the drug court 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.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.