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Abundant help for our addicted children (and families)

In response to the Other Voices editorial, “No help for our addicted children” ( Jan. 9, 2004), I can truly feel the pain of the writer. The disease of addiction affects not only the addict but family, friends and the community. It can be frustrating, if not impossible, to deal with alone.

It seems that every day there are stories in The Union of drug addicts committing crimes like burglary and vandalism, even murder. Every person in our community is affected one way or another. But nowhere is the trauma of drug addiction most prevalent than within the families who directly deal with addiction. Unfortunately, many people in this situation feel as if there is no help and no hope.

However, there is help. And there most certainly is hope. There are literally dozens of success stories through Drug Court and Proposition 36 to back this up.



Community Recovery Resources, Nevada County’s public-benefit alcohol and drug treatment and recovery agency, could literally report on hundreds of successful recoveries through its various programs (outpatient drug and alcohol treatment, family counseling, Hope House and ADAPT, a program for adolescents). With an emphasis on treating the entire family in addition to the addict, families are reunited and go on to live productive, successful, clean lives, free of drug use.

As a participant, then as a Drug Court mentor, I have sat watching participants of Nevada County Drug Court for four years. Yes, there are those who are not yet ready to make the change, but there are numerous graduates who have gone on to stay clean (and I count them as lifelong friends and an important part of my own support in staying clean and sober).




Where are these former drug users? They have been absorbed back into the community as productive citizens. They are checking your groceries, caring for your elderly parents, waiting on you in restaurants, or putting a roof on your house. They are kind, generous people willing to help any in need (as part of their own recoveries). They have peered into the mouth of hell and come back to live a life filled with hope for the future … for themselves, their families and the community.

It is implied that, since there is no hope for addicts or their families, that the addict should be set aside, cast away or simply locked up.

Unfortunately, a segment of society believes this. They believe addiction is simply a moral decision, a weakness in character. Perhaps if they truly understood the nature and causes of addiction, and that there are effective resources to help addicts and their families enter into recovery, they would see things differently.

While I truly believe that people who commit violent crimes or property crimes should be prosecuted accordingly, the addict, their family, and the community is far better served by offering treatment to those users who do not commit crimes against people or property. After all, the cost of treatment is a fraction of the cost of incarceration.

As a practical matter, if 50 percent of the people entering Drug Court complete their program, aren’t we as taxpayers saving hundreds of thousands of dollars? What’s more, if those people go on to lead productive lives, isn’t that worth the investment, versus the predictable outcome prison time produces?

But it’s implied that programs like Drug Court are a waste of the taxpayers’ money. Tell that to my children. Four years ago, I was an addicted IV drug-user well on my way to prison. Thanks to Drug Court and Community Recovery Resources, I’ll have four years of being clean of meth in April, and my daughters got their mom back.

Christine Blankenship is a resident of Grass Valley.


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