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Addict uses court recovery program to clean up, avoid prison

The recent case of a Carbondale man shows how participation in a court-sponsored recovery program can help addicts kick their drug habit, avoid prison and reclaim their lives. By accepting the assistance offered by the Pennsylvania legal system, persons charged with drug crimes can, in a very literal sense, save their own lives.

The man in question followed a common path to addiction. After a diagnosis of carpal tunnel syndrome in 2007, the man began taking Vicodin to control the pain. By his own admission, he was eating the pills like "candy." A friend suggested heroin as a more potent pain killer. He became an addict within two weeks of his first sniff. Then he switched to needles. Soon, he was spending $800 a week on his heroin habit. After the addiction cost him his job, the man began selling drugs to pay for his habit.

Not surprisingly, the drug-dealing brought the man to the attention of local police. He was arrested and charged with drug dealing and drug trafficking. If convicted, he faced many years in prison. As part of the routine pre-trial review for drug court defendants, the man was required to attend 90 Narcotics Anonymous meetings, make daily telephone reports to the court and submit to random drug testing. He was placed under the supervision of a drug and alcohol counselor who had known him before heroin ruined his life.

The program succeeded in saving the man's life. Not only did he manage to get clean, the criminal charges against him are most likely going to be expunged at the end of the year. His life is also back on track--he was re-hired to his old job when the employer found out he was in the court program. He and his fiancé have one child and another on the way.

This case provides a powerful demonstration of how persons in the depths of even a severe addiction can avoid prison and return to productive lives by keeping an open mind and accepting help from others. The advice and counsel of an attorney experienced in handling drug-related crimes is also a major help in achieving recovery.

Source: Scranton Times-Tribune, "From torched house to family man," Peter Cameron, July 22, 2014

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