When it comes down to it, recovery is a process of learning and being honest with yourself.
As he spoke to the seven graduates of the Floyd County Drug Court on Thursday, Floyd County Superior Court Judge William “Billy” Sparks congratulated them on their efforts and recovery to date.
“All of you have incredible potential,” said Sparks, who presides over the drug court.
In a ceremony that was more personal than procedural, the judge said it was apparent the graduates understood the choices they made in the past to get in trouble as well as the choices they will need to make to continue their recovery.
“There are people in the state who think that (alternative sentencing programs) cost too much money,” Sparks said. “I think you all can prove a lot of people wrong.”
Legislators have proposed cutting funding to alternative sentencing programs during budget negotiations in the past few years.
However, during the 18- to 24-month treatment program, participants earn income, support their families and pay taxes. Participants also pay fees in order to help defray the costs of running the program.
Floyd County has three accountability courts aimed at helping offenders as opposed to incarcerating them.
Keynote speaker U.S. District Magistrate Judge Walter Johnson acknowledged the strength it takes to recover from addiction and congratulated the graduates on their accomplishments.
“You’ve made remarkable strides,” he said. Then he quoted the Winnie the Pooh character Christopher Robin by saying, “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”
Each of the seven volunteers stood up to speak to family members, loved ones and current drug court participants. As they stood they were encouraged by their fellow graduates, and when finished each received a standing ovation.
“I want to thank everybody involved in my recovery process,” graduate Jimmy Hoppes said. “I know I have an even bigger family and support system I can ask for help.”
Addressing those currently in the program, he encouraged them to not just go through the motions, but to put effort into the program for the right reasons.
Hoppes has volunteered his time to help others in the program since meeting the requirements, Drug Court coordinator Erin Young said.
“So basically we can’t get rid of Jimmy,” she laughed.
Visual representations of recovery accompanied speeches. Booking photos were followed by smiling, healthy faces as they spoke of their experiences before and through the program.
“At first I wasn’t very open or receptive,” Tyler Moss said. But through the program he has seen opportunities open up. He’s pursuing a leadership position at his job and is in a healthy relationship.
“Drug court kept me sober long enough to gain a life I’m no longer willing to lose,” he said.