May is National Drug Court Month. Drug courts are a type of problem-solving court that address individuals’ substance use problems with a team approach that includes the individual, the judge, treatment providers, and local social service agencies. Drug courts offer support, accountability, and treatment for those who qualify to be a part of the program. For many individuals, participating in a drug court is an opportunity that can be both lifesaving and a final chance to get treatment before ending up in prison.
Participating in a drug court program shows that an individual is invested in making meaningful changes. Completing such a program often takes a year or more, and it can be a gateway to lifelong recovery. An extended period of time learning and practicing healthy coping skills sets the stage for continued success, no matter what the individual’s situation was when recovery began.
In Illinois, the concept of connecting criminal courts to community-based treatment is well established. For instance, TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) links the justice system, and those involved in it, to community-based treatment by providing assessment, placement into treatment programs, and ongoing case management. Since 1981, TASC has partnered with courts, treatment providers, and other service partners across Illinois to help individuals access the services they need.
In my career at TASC and in my personal life, I have had the privilege to interact with many different people in different stages of recovery. This has provided an opportunity to discuss the basis of recovery at length, including what usually works and does not work. I have heard again and again that recovery is not a short-term project, but an ongoing process. It’s about continuing to work on becoming the best version of oneself on a daily basis, despite failures or shortcomings that may occur along the way. Recovery isn’t simply abstaining from drug use; it’s about learning how to live, with all of life’s challenges and complexities, without turning to substances.
Drug courts are a great way for many people to begin this journey. However, it is also important that earlier paths to recovery be available before this type of intensive intervention ever needs to occur.
There are many quality agencies in our local community that offer services tailored to individuals who are suffering from distress related to their substance use. There are also many agencies that offer counseling programs to help individuals address their negative feelings or thought processes before they lead to substance use problems. Getting an early start on managing one’s mental and physical well-being can help to build resilience and support systems for any individual, regardless of their current level of need.
Knowing the warning signs of substance use disorders can allow families and friends to address problems with loved ones sooner rather than later. Some of those signs include: neglecting responsibilities at home, school, and work; impulsive or dangerous decision-making that revolves around drug use, such as driving while intoxicated or taking unknown substances; and disruption in personal relationships or increased conflicts. Another warning sign is when an individual begins to have legal problems. All of these potential indicators can help signal that it’s time to reach out for help, or to offer support to someone who appears to be in need.
One characteristic of drug courts that helps make them successful is the fact that the individual in need receives multiple sources of support, based on the drug court’s team approach. This principle of collective engagement applies outside of drug courts as well. Being part of a positive community or group can be helpful to anyone: connections and fellowship with others help to build natural supports in our lives. Planning and participating in meaningful activities, and promoting one another’s overall happiness and well-being, are great ways to uplift one other and also create support systems for ourselves.
This May, as we take the time to show gratitude for our community drug courts, it’s good to remember that it’s never too early to make personal improvements and to start lifting each other up.
Joe Jackson is an administrator for TASC (Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities) in Metro East. He has extensive experience providing mental health and addiction treatment for youth and adults in residential, outpatient, and crisis settings.
via The Edwardsville Intelligencer
May 16, 2021 at 07:39AM