Beyond Drug Court Graduation: Will County Provides Follow Up Support
"In order to graduate and have their charges dropped, participants must successfully complete a drug treatment program, stay alcohol and drug free, have a sponsor and be in a 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous, earn their GED, finish 25 hours of community service, pay $1,040 in court fees, find a job or be enrolled in school and get the approval of the drug court team to graduate.
Most who graduate have been drug-free for a year or more.
Drug Court is held each Thursday in Will County Judge Carla Policandriotes' courtroom. The Drug Court "team," which includes case managers, treatment specialists and a Drug Court coordinator, meet in the courtroom with the participants to review each individual's progress and any particular needs. At any given time, the Drug Court call consists of 70-75 people.
"This offers a possibility to make a difference in people's lives and to afford them the opportunity to change their lives," said Julie McCabe-Sterr, Drug Court coordinator.
But it's clear that graduation is only a step in the ongoing battle to beat back drug addictions. Many who graduated spoke about continuing with their meetings and following their 12-step programs. Some said they hope to return to drug court graduation a year from now to mark another year of sobriety.
"Becoming clean and sober is a step," Policandriotes said. "The other step is living life."
Will County State's Attorney James Glasgow said he is looking into ways to make sure that graduates continue to live their lives drug free.
Though Drug Court has a fairly high success rate, relapses do occur. During a recent week, McCabe-Sterr got two early morning calls from former participants needing help.
Glasgow is hoping that in this age of texting, Facebook and cell phones, help can be a phone call or text message away. Although members of the Drug Court team are available 24/7, Glasgow is hoping to make that offer more formal."