GALLIPOLIS — The Gallipolis Daily Tribune recently spoke with individuals who graduated or are working toward completion of the Gallipolis Municipal Recovery Court program as they set their sights on a life free from substance abuse.
Three men, Corey, 33, Matt, 31, and John, 20, whose last names are withheld to maintain privacy, spoke of their journey through the court program and how their outlooks on life have and are changing.
“I’m done with the drug court program as of now,” said Matt. “I had charges brought against me and (law enforcement) put me on probation. Really, I talked to (Gallipolis Municipal Probation Officer Shallon Schuldt) and said I wanted to stop using. I couldn’t figure out how. I’d been in and out of rehab. This was a structured program that I thought I needed.”
“It was kind of the same thing with me,” said Corey, who is currently going through the program. “I was doing some time. Around 80 days or something. I had quite a few charges racked up and some I hadn’t pleaded to yet. I did my time on the other cases… Someone said they thought I’d make a good candidate for the drug court so I’d said that I’d like to try that. So Shallon came down to talk with me about it. I’d tried everything else so I thought why not. Nothing else had worked so far.”
“I was already on probation… Shallon brought me in and told me about the program,” said John, a recovery court graduate. “I missed my first drug court day. I went and did some time in jail and it gave me some time to think about what I really wanted. I realized the drug court program was giving me a second chance at what I really needed. Once I got out of jail, I realized I needed to take this opportunity while I could.”
According to municipal court information, recovery court is geared toward problem-solving in an intensive out-patient or community-based environment, and is managed by Schuldt, a court probation officer who was appointed as the specialized dockets coordinator in February 2017. Schuldt provides more intensive supervision to her clients than is possible with standard probation, while each receives comprehensive case management and treatment from licensed behavioral health providers, such as TASC of Southeast Ohio, among others. Each also appears before the judge for regular case review hearings, where incentives are offered for compliance with the program rules and sanctions are imposed for any violations.
Once a participant has been admitted into the program, his or her individualized case plan allows the option of traditional, faith-based, or medication-assisted treatment. The majority select either traditional counseling or to receive Vivitrol, a non-narcotic medication with no addictive properties, which is administered with a monthly injection that blocks brain receptors from becoming high from opiates.
“The biggest thing I learned from drug court was that I was living a lifestyle that was pretty crazy,” said Corey. “I’ve lived on the street and been homeless and down for a long time. When you go from that to trying to figure out what we might call a normal life, it’s a hard struggle because I didn’t know what to do. All the people around me were doing the same things that I was doing and I wasn’t learning how to do anything. I was learning how to dig a bigger hole. It was about getting around positive people. Being around the judge (Gallipolis Municipal Judge Eric Mulford) and Shallon and (other individuals going through the recovery program), they gave me hope (to find a better life) because I couldn’t see that from where I was at. You could see no hope, seeing it through addicted eyes. I feel a lot different as a person these days.”
“I think my biggest challenge was overcoming old patterns of behavior,” said Matt. “You get used to a certain lifestyle. Really, they believed in me before I believed in myself. I don’t know that I would have looked for any of these resources because I was pretty much at the end. I thought it was going to be my life and that was it. They (supportive community members) took a personal interest in my success…The biggest lesson I learned was that there are people who care and there are resources and a different way to live.”
“My biggest success was learning how to maintain a stable home,” said John. “That and getting my kids back and getting my life back.”
“We made it sound like it’s easy,” said Corey. “But it ain’t easy. You got to put the work in. You got to be in that state of mind. We got our families back. You can’t put a price on that.”
“I feel like some people look at failure rates and success rates of a program and think ‘Yeah, most people might fail.’ But what about the small percentage that get their life back and turn around and help somebody? My kids and parents will forever be grateful that I can come back,” said Matt. “If one life is changed in the process…it’s worth it.”
“When you affect someone in recovery, you’re not just affecting one person,” said Schuldt. “You’re affecting everyone around them.”
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342.