County Drug Court holds graduation

By Donna Carver - [email protected]

The Morrow County Drug Court held a graduation ceremony on July 2 at the Mount Gilead State Lakes for participants that have successfully completed the drug court program.

Drug Court Coordinator Renee Watts introduced guest speaker Nick Oakleif. Oakleif shared his touching story of how he went from being successful to suffering an injury which lead him down the road of prescription drug abuse and ultimately cost him his career. Oakleif is a success story of the drug court program. He shared that he grew up in a nice stable home, attended a great school, was athletic in school, entered the police academy and then went on to earn an MBA and was on the dean’s list. He eventually ended up in the pharmacy field which provided him access to a variety of painkillers. He eventually was caught and ended his career. He was indicted, went before Judge Hall and entered the drug court program and “it saved my life,” he shared.

“The point I am trying to make is, it doesn’t matter your upbringing, it doesn’t matter where you come from, this can touch anybody, no one is immune to it.”

Judge Hall thanked everyone for being there and congratulated all the graduates. Hall then recognized the eight graduates from his court followed by Judge Hickson who recognized the four graduates from his court and from family court. Each graduate too the opportunity to share how the program helped them and got them on a better path.

Drug Courts were developed as a result of America’s war on drugs, judges around the United States were noticing that most of the defendants being brought before them were repeat offenders. Although they were repeat offenders they all had one thing in common, significant substance abuse issues directly or in-directly linked to their criminal behavior. Ideally it was the substance abuse issues the offenders were experiencing created the “revolving door” of criminal behavior and recidivism for the offender. The Courts felt that if the substance abuse issue was dealt with directly the offender would be able to control the “revolving door” thus saving the American taxpayers money by offering an alternative to incarceration.

The Morrow County Substance Abuse (MCSAC) program provides person and their families and your family with an opportunity to address their substance abuse issues with the full support of the judges, magistrates, probation officers, and defense attorneys, prosecutors, local treatment providers and educators.

Throughout the program, they are required to achieve specific goals as set forth by the Court, their Probation Officer, and the various treatment providers or educators the may have been referred to, along with any school official. The ultimate goal of a Drug Court programs encompass more than just a participant passing a drug test. They treat offenders, not just the offense, while protecting the community, serve low (non-violent) level, drug and/or alcohol involved offenders, conduct judicial reviews of the offender’s progress in a non-adversarial manner, provide guidance to treatment that includes rewards for inappropriate behavior and sanctions for achievements, and provide guidance to the offender towards substance abuse education, employment opportunities, continued higher education, and life skills training”

Treatment providers include Maryhaven, Recovery Prevention Resources, Direction Offender Services, Central Ohio Mental Health and Morrow County Job & Family Services.

Reach Donna Carver at 419-946-3010, ext. 1804 or on Twitter @MorrCoSentinel.

By Donna Carver

[email protected]