June 26, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Judge to addicts: Find a job or work in courtroom

MEDINA — Idle hands may be the devil’s workshop, but it’s more dire for drug addicts.

“Idle time is their death,” Common Pleas Judge Christopher J. Collier said.

That’s why Collier told addicts at this week’s drug court support session that he’d put them to work in the courtroom if they can’t find jobs elsewhere.

Without work, he said, addicts are left at home with nothing but their own thoughts. If that’s the case, he said it’s more likely they’ll use drugs or alcohol, which will end with them in jail or prison.

Collier and Drug Court Administrator Christine Demlow host drug court 3 p.m. every Wednesday in Collier’s courtroom. The meetings play out similar to Alcoholics Anonymous.

Some participants have pleaded guilty to drug-related crimes but are given treatment for their addictions in lieu of conviction. Other participants are on probation.

Collier said the addicts’ drug cases are dismissed or their probation is terminated if they complete the program, which takes a full year. Participants are required to work 37 hours per week, to attend several Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings per week and to contact one another daily to check in on each other.

All participants are subject to random check-ins, searches and drug tests by the court, Collier and Demlow said.

Demlow said the addicts are punished for using drugs under treatment but are sent to jail for only a few days if they admit to it. If a drug test or random search finds they’ve been using, they’re convicted of their guilty pleas or they violate their probation.

“The real trouble comes if they lie,” she said.

The idea behind the treatment, Collier said, is to cut off the addicts’ dependency on drugs. After a year, he said, most of them have an entirely new set of friends, goals and work.

“After they’ve been clean for a year, they know how to live,” Collier said.

Collier said this sort of treatment is the only way to end the war on drugs.

He said no matter how much the government tries to limit the supply of drugs, there still will be a demand for them. Collier said providing treatment to addicts helps to fight the demand.

“If there’s no demand, there’s no need for supply,” Collier said.

If one addict can recover, Collier said, the addict can help dozens of other addicts, who go on to help others.

Almost two dozen addicts attended drug court this week to gain and give support. Collier and Demlow encouraged them to discuss their weeks, whether they were emotional or uneventful.

One man received applause from the group after announcing he’d been clean for

11 months.

Another woman told the others to try to let their guard down, because that will help them recover.

“It’s only after you let people in and share your experiences that the healing starts,” she said. “It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.”

She said it was hard for her to let people in because she didn’t want to feel “vulnerable.”

Several people shared proud moments from the week, such as resisting the urge to use or discouraging someone else from using. Others said they felt better and stronger after a few months of staying clean.

Collier and Demlow confronted a few about lack of communication, but nothing came of it.

Partway through the meeting, Collier asked the group who had used drugs or drank alcohol this week.

No one admitted to it.

Demlow said she hoped none of them were lying.

“If you don’t tell us, then you’re done,” she said, “because you’ve broken that bond we share.”

Still, no one came forward.

Contact Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.