Hello, my name is Michelle and I am addict. I recently read an article in the East Oregonian about discontinuing Umatilla County Drug Court. I am writing this today to be a voice for all the lives that said drug court has saved.
When I entered drug court three years ago, I was not ready to quit using. As far as I was concerned my drug addiction wasn’t hurting anyone. I was full of anger and rebellion. I was a heroin addict trying to numb the pain from my husband’s death, and the world owed me.
I had tried 13 inpatient treatment centers, methadone and suboxone replacement therapies. I tried moving to another state. My two oldest children were adopted out to my parents and I had my third baby in a methadone treatment center in Eugene. Even after the loss I created for myself and my children, plus watching my baby go through withdrawal at six days old, I still could not stop “chasing the dragon.”
Umatilla County Drug Court accepted me even though I did not have a drug charge. I was less than thrilled that my probation officer got me in. I was on probation for a felony assault that I committed against an officer while intoxicated.
The drug court team assisted me in finding a new way to cope with loss, pain, and how to stay clean through individual counseling and groups. They showed me how to be accountable and even though I went to jail a few times, I became grateful for the team and their undying support in my life. They helped me to value my life, mend my relationships with my children and loved ones, give back to the community, and go to college.
I graduated from Umatilla County Drug Court last fall, however the drug court team is still a large support system in my life. I know I can always call or drop in. I have two years clean and I will be graduating from college this year.
If we take away such a vital program and have nothing to replace it, what then? What about all the tax dollars that will go to more incarcerations, more unpaid hospital bills, higher crime rates, more children in the foster care system, and ultimately more deaths?
What about the value of a human life? Drug court works. Umatilla County Drug Court worked.