Four prepare to complete Drug Court journey

Published 5:37 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

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The Suffolk Drug Court relaunch will see its first four graduates this month as they complete the program helping them to recover from their addictions.

Suffolk’s Fifth Judicial Court is celebrating their achievement with a special graduation ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 the third floor at Godwin Court. 

Fifth Judicial Drug Treatment Court Coordinator Terry Tate said 27 participants have taken part of the treatment program since its restart. Ahead of the momentous occasion, he praised the achievements of those who completed the journey.

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“Not everyone was successful in the program and that’s understandable because of working with addiction,” Tate said. “But those that have been successful in the program are looking at graduating and we have four participants that will be graduating this upcoming September.” 

Tate explained the process the four participants went through to make it to graduation. An 18-24 month treatment program with five phases, he said each phase has different requirements for participants to achieve to move to the next one.

“For instance, in phase one we require them to go to the doctor,” he said. “We require them to go to the dentist. We require them to go to the eye doctor. We make these requirements because we know that during their substance abuse that these things went neglected.” 

In phase two, Tate said participants must get a job and begin paying their court fees, while phase three promotes their independence. 

The four participants have made it through phases one through four, with phase five being completed Sept. 17, advancing them to graduate Friday, Sept. 29.

“All four of them have completely paid off their court costs and fines. They’ve made their doctors appointments and they’re following up on this stuff on the regular,” Tate said. “So, they’ve been to the dentist and they continue to follow up on their own personal healthcare without the assistance of Drug Court.”

While Drug Courts only deal specifically with individuals with those who face charges in the criminal justice system, Tate said he did provide options for non-offenders wanting to help facing their addiction.

“Of course, the CSB is available, or they can also check with [Sentara] Obici and see if they have any inpatient or outpatient treatment facilities at that time,” he said.

Tate offered words of hope for individuals or families affected by drug addiction.

“Outside of Drug Court, there’s some resources here. Those who feel hopeless, we want to give them some hope. Even in the Drug Court program, we don’t look to completely fix the person because 18-24 months is really a small amount of time when you’re thinking of someone who’s had an addiction for 10-plus years,” he said. “But for those individuals that are struggling with it, the biggest thing is finding out what resources are available to them.”