Drug Court Graduates Focus on Family

From left: Thomas Shaffer, Heartland Center Drug Court Program Manager; Brian, Drug Court Graduate, and Jackson County Drug Court Commissioner David Fry.

On January 23, Heartland Center applauded graduates of the 122nd Drug Court, including two inspiring clients, Brian and Shonnel.

Brian started using drugs, namely marijuana, to “wind down.”

“I was in the restaurant business working 10 to 12 hours a day, and I got caught up in the lifestyle – sleeping while everyone else is awake, awake until almost dawn,” says Brian. I told myself that I couldn’t sleep without marijuana. I didn’t think it was a problem. Most of the people I knew were doing what I did.”

Then in 2012, Brian was arrested for possession.

“I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t get a liquor card, and without that I couldn’t work in the restaurant/bar business. But I was given the gift of Drug Court. I won’t lie … I didn’t think it was a gift at first,” he said with a smile.

Through his experience with the Heartland Center Drug Court counselors, Brian learned about himself. He saw how much he had come to rely on marijuana as his way to cope with life – the good and the bad.

“Drug Court gave me the opportunity to learn about myself. I finally realized what a real problem marijuana had become. Now, I don’t need drugs or alcohol to cope. Life is more important,” he says.

Brian is working full time and is engaged to marry. He and his future bride have a beautiful four month old daughter.

“Today I’m focused on taking care of my family. I never want to be a drunken Dad.”

Heartland Center has provided substance abuse treatment to Drug Court participants for the past nine years. The Drug Court program lasts 12-18 months. Individuals who are charged with non-violent drug and/or alcohol related offenses are eligible for the program. After they have successfully completed the Drug Court program, their charges are expunged from their record.

Drug Court Graduate Shonnel is being congratulated by Jackson County Drug Court Commissioner David Fry at the January 23 Drug Court Graduation.

Shonnel, another graduate of the 122nd Drug Court, shared his story as well.  Shonnel started using drugs after he was injured and needed surgery. As a result of his medical condition, he was introduced to hydrocodone and that began his slide on the slippery slope of addiction.

“I soon found myself doing things I had never done before,” he says. “I worked in a pharmacy at the time and it wasn’t long before I was stealing my supply from my place of employment.”

In 2011, Shonnel was arrested.

“That was a very black day,” he says. “I had disappointed everyone I loved—my wife, my parents, my in-laws and my friends. Drug Court was my lifeline back. I entered Drug Court on Jan 14, 2013. I was determined to complete this program successfully. And, thank God, I did.”

Today, Shonnel works full time and is focused on the future. “I want my wife to be proud of me and I want to do right and to be a role model,” he says. “Drug Court saved me.”