WILMINGTON — An Ohio Supreme Court justice told local drug court graduates they have given themselves a chance to write new chapters in their life story, and to underscore her point she gave each of them a composition book to keep.
Ohio Supreme Court Justice Sharon L. Kennedy told the four graduates Friday night that by committing themselves every day to live a life of sobriety they have given themselves a new beginning, and “like any story of redemption” it involves rebirth.
The graduates’ successful completions of the minimum 18-month drug program “marks a new chapter for you to write,” Kennedy said as she kept with her theme.
The four people being recognized probably are tempted to try to rewrite or tear out earlier chapters, the justice said.
“I assure you every single person in this room has those chapters we’d like to rewrite or tear out. But we cannot do that. No one can rewrite the past. But each of us has an opportunity to live a new day,” said Kennedy.
The graduates have the power to continue to write a new story, “a story written by choice,” she said.
With these latest participants to graduate from the You-Turn Recovery Docket, there now are 13 local residents who have successfully completed the drug program.
Prior to the start of the graduation ceremony held in the Wilmington Church of Christ (WCC), video slides were projected onto screens, telling of various accomplishments of the four graduates.
Christopher Bricker has gained employment, is helping other suffering addicts, been reunited with family, and overcame years of heroin addiction.
Crystal White has obtained housing, maintained sobriety since December 2015, completed treatment, and obtained a vehicle.
Lindsey West has gained sobriety, paid off all courts costs and fines, obtained transportation, and is gaining trust with family members.
Brandon Curtis has completed treatment, has experienced sobriety for 15 months, and gained employment.
Common Pleas Court Intervention Specialist Ken Houghtaling introduced Bricker whom he has worked with on the road of recovery.
When Houghtaling first met Bricker, he looked like what you expect a heroin addict to look like, said Houghtaling.
“He [Bricker] was withdrawn, malnourished, eyes sunken back. He looked like somebody had dragged him down a dirt road behind a pickup truck,” he said.
Then Houghtaling said he was going to deliver a public service announcement of sorts.
He said he’s often asked by people in the community ‘why do we spend all this money giving these drug addicts Narcan when they overdose?’
“Well, you’re looking at the reason,” Houghtaling said of Bricker who was on stage with him.
After more than a year in recovery, Bricker had one moment of bad decision, said Houghtaling, and overdosed on Valentine’s Day 2017.
“The reason we give people Narcan is because as long as they’re alive, we have hope. And I could not be more proud of Chris if he was my own son,” said Houghtaling.
For his part, Bricker told the audience the drug court program “is the best gift I ever received.”
In the invocation Friday, WCC Senior Minister Dale McCamish called it a celebratory prayer, “celebrating lives changed and transformed.”
You-Turn Recovery Docket (drug court) 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.
The team meets the first and third Friday afternoons of each month before status review hearings for participants that are held en masse in the common pleas courtroom at 1:30 p.m. and are open to the public.
To ensure accountability, participants are regularly and randomly tested for substance use, rewarded for meeting goals, and sanctioned for not meeting clearly stated obligations.
Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.