Drug Court graduates begin new phase of life
by ELSIE HODNETT
Aug 29, 2009 | 1633 views |  0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
ST. CLAIR COUNTY — Six area residents began a new phase of their life with a special graduation ceremony.

“I want to congratulate each of the graduates,” said St. Clair County District Court Judge Phil Seay, who oversees both the adult drug court and the juvenile drug court. “The journey is worth it, and the journey forward drug-free is worth it, too.”

The six graduates of the St. Clair County Drug Court Program, along with family members, friends and other drug court participants, celebrated the transition at the graduation ceremony Friday.

“We have 16 graduates from our drug court program, including the six today,” said St. Clair County Assistant District Attorney Carol Boone.

Boone said there are more than 40 people active in the drug court program.

“So far there is a zero-percent recidivism rate with our graduates,” she said.

Guest speaker Jim Herbowy, program director of Truth Recoveries in Sylacauga, addressed the graduates.

“The task ahead is no where near the comparison of the power behind you,” he said.

Herbowy said drug court is a blessing in disguise.

“The judicial system works with you instead of against you to help you change your mind,” he said.

Herbowy said he has been where those graduates are.

“I saw my mother murdered when I was 7,” he said.

Herbowy said he lived with an abusive aunt and uncle during his childhood years.

“It was a good excuse to use drugs, and I used those excuses,” he said. “I hated God most of my life and blamed Him.”

Herbowy said he blamed others and his circumstances for his problems.

“God was doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself,” he said. “I had to go through what I went through to be where I am today.”

Herbowy said his love for his son wasn’t strong enough to overcome his addictions.

“My wife left with my son,” he said.

While on the road to recovery, Herbowy said he asked God for the chance to ask his son to forgive him.

“Saturday (Aug. 29) I am getting on a plane to see my son for the first time in 20 years,” he said. “And I will also get to see my 5-year-old granddaughter I didn’t know I had.”

Herbowy said he has been in contact with his son recently.

“I asked for his forgiveness and he said, “Dad, I forgave you a long time ago,’” Herbowy said.

Herbowy said God led him to open the Truth Recoveries program, where he now helps others.

Each graduate was given the opportunity to speak at the ceremony.

One graduate said drug court was both a positive and negative experience.

“I was in complete denial,” the graduate said. “I realize drugs took over my life. I know now recovery is a lifelong experience, and I hope weakness in the future will become strengths.”

Another graduate compared his addiction to insanity.

“Insanity is doing the same things over and over again expecting different results,” he said. “The program really isn’t hard; it’s making up your mind what to do that’s hard.”

The graduate advised the other drug court participants not to hate the program, but to try to love it or embrace it instead.

Another graduate said he lost his family but has gotten most of them back together after participating in the drug court program.

“I have my wife and son back,” he said. “I came into drug court an angry person. Without New Pathways (part of the treatment program) I couldn’t have gotten the anger out of me. I was lost, but I found myself, and I’m a better person than I used to be.”

Drug Court case manager Cindy Smith said Friday’s graduation ceremony was the third held since its inception in 2007.

“Everything is going well,” she said. “These graduates are proof of that.”