Program aims to rehab addicts
By Robert Cloud
Waupaca County Drug Court is not a get-out-of-jail-free card.
The five-phase program takes at least 14 months to complete and offenders must commit to a rigorous schedule and extensive monitoring.
In the first phase of the program, participants are randomly tested for drugs up to four times each week, meet with group counseling sessions every day, meet with the drug court coordinator two times a week, meet with their probation officer once per week, work with a recovery coach weekly and go before a judge for a progress evaluation once every week.
Drug court began working with its first offenders in November 2017.
Currently, there are five active participants in the program.
To protect their privacy, the Waupaca County Post will report only the first names of the participants.
The first offender to be accepted into the program was 27-year-old Brandon.
“This program saved my life,” Brandon said.
A skilled foundry worker, Brandon did not start using hard drugs until after he was prescribed opiates due to a severe work-related injury.
When the medications ran out, he began buying the medications illegally, then he began shooting heroin.
Brandon tried to break his drug habit and went into a treatment facility.
He remained clean for awhile, but began using heroin again shortly after returning from rehab.
Although Brandon had a well-paying job, he was using heroin multiple times each day at a cost of $50 per bindle.
“I ran out of money, and I needed drugs,” Brandon said.
In June 2015, Brandon stole more than $6,000 from a bar in Waupaca.
On Christmas Eve, 2015, he stole from his girlfriend’s parents.
On Jan. 12, 2016, Waupaca police responded to an alarm at a bowling alley and found Brandon hiding in the basement.
When questioned by police in 2016, Brandon admitted to spending $250 a day on heroin until he ran out of money.
Brandon was subsequently convicted of burglary and criminal damage to property.
He appeared before Judge Raymond Huber who imposed and stayed a two-year prison sentence and placed Brandon on four years of probation with six months in jail.
On Nov. 1, 2017, Brandon appeared before Judge Vicki Clussman and was accepted as a participant in drug court.
He now goes to court every week to have his progress reviewed.
“It has definitely changed my outlook on drug use and criminal thinking,” Brandon said.
Courtland is 53 years old. He said he has been using heroin since he was 25. He began using meth about six years ago.
“I started drinking beer and smoking pot when I was 13,” Courtland said. I went to using meds, then cocaine and crack.”
Courtland said he sometimes used heroin to come down from meth.
“It’s a vicious cycle of coming up and coming down,” he said.
In December 2013, Courtland was convicted of the manufacture and delivery of methamphetamines. He was placed on three years of probation, ordered to perform 50 hours of community service and undergo any counseling recommended by his probation agent.
On May 30, 2017, Courtland was charged with possession of meth and possession of narcotics. He remained in custody for six months because his probation was revoked.
Convicted of both counts, Courtland was placed on two years probation and sentenced to nine months in jail.
On Nov. 22, 2017, Courtland appeared before Clussman and became the second offender to participate in drug court.
The remainder of his nine-month sentence was stayed, and Courtland began appearing in court every week.
“The judge calls us up to the podium and gives us a weekly report of all our activities and if our UAs (urine analysis) have been clean,” Courtland said.
He is tested for drugs four times a week.
“I have eight months of clean time,” Courtland said, noting six of those months were while he was in jail.
Courtland said the program provides resources, ongoing help with recovery and community support.
“I have a lot of people in my corner rooting for me,” Courtland said. “The police chief, the judge, probation agents, counselors and the sheriff are all on our side now.”
Courtland, who was given a place to stay with Foundations For Living, is now a volunteer with that organization.
“Now, I’m volunteering to pay back to the community for helping me out,” Courtland said. “I’m turning into a different person.”
Aaron Holt, the drug court coordinator, said community support is essential to the program’s success.
He said area stores and restaurants have provided gift cards that may be used as incentives when participants do well.
Holt also encourages area businesses to help give drug court participants a second chance by offering them employment.