A celebration was held last week to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the DeKalb County Drug Court Program now renamed the “DeKalb County Recovery Court” and to recognize the latest persons to graduate from the program, Lisa Dillon and Christina Murphy.
The celebration banquet ceremony and ribbon cutting were held at the New Life Connection Center in Smithville on Monday, September 26.
Not only was the event held to commemorate 10 years of restoring lives, reuniting families, and helping participants begin their journeys into recovery through the program, but also to raise awareness for the disease of addiction.
Norene Puckett, Program Coordinator welcomed the crowd of over 90 people, and stated “The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines addiction as a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain; they change its structure and how it works. These brain changes can be long lasting and can lead to many harmful, often self-destructive, behaviors. September is National Recovery Month and that is why we chose to have our event tonight, in honor of this. The national slogan for recovery month is ‘Prevention Works, Treatment is Effective, People Recover.’ Our program and drug courts like ours across the country target non-violent, high risk, high need offenders and give them the treatment they need, rather than punishment through incarceration. Lives are transformed through judicial monitoring, random and frequent drug testing, evidenced-based treatment, support of the drug court team, and holding our participants accountable for their actions. Addiction is a treatable disease!”
Puckett went on to say, “Tennessee is in the top 3 in the country for prescription drug abuse. And our leaders across the state have recognized this and are acting on it. The TN Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services has selected drug courts across the state to take part in a vivitrol pilot program. We are one of 4 drug courts in the Middle TN region and 1 of 11 in the state to have been selected to be in the pilot program. Vivitrol is a once a month injection used in treating alcohol dependence and opiod use disorder. In my opinion, this is lifesaving medication and I am so thankful to be able to give our participants access to it.”
In 2013, the TN Dept. of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, which funds and monitors drug courts across the state, wanted to be more inclusive of all the types of treatment courts throughout the state (i.e. veterans court, drug court, DUI court, juvenile drug court, etc.) and to show the positive aspects of the programs, so they changed the name to Tennessee Recovery Courts. Following Puckett’s speech a ribbon cutting ceremony was done with the Smithville-DeKalb Chamber of Commerce to unveil the new name of the drug court program, the DeKalb County Recovery Court.
Speakers that night were Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, who gave an overview of the program and the 10 year history, along with the history of drug courts throughout the country. Nathan Payne, Region Coordinator for Lifeline of Tennessee spoke on his personal story of addiction and spoke about the need to reduce stigma for persons suffering from addictive disease. The keynote speaker was the Director of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Mark Gwyn, who praised the work of recovery courts across the state and nation. He addressed the perception that he himself along with many officers he has worked with once had towards drugs. "We will lock-up everyone and get us out of this problem!” He told the audience his views did not change toward the drug problem until he was hired with the TBI and worked with a drug court program in Davidson County. During his time with that program (during a methamphetamine pilot program) his mind was made up. When he saw how people’s lives can be transformed through treatment and accountability, he has been a firm supporter of recovery courts ever since.
The evening also celebrated two more graduates of the program, Lisa Dillon and Christina Murphy. Each woman was presented with a plaque recognizing them for successfully completing the requirements of the DeKalb County Recovery Court program.
DeKalb County Recovery Court would like to thank the sponsors for the evening: Bradford Health Services, Buffalo Valley Treatment Centers, Community Probation Services, DeKalb Community Advisory Board, DeKalb Florist, DeKalb Prevention Coalition, Gayla Hendrix Law, Haven of Hope Counseling, Health Connect America, Power of Putnam, Smithville Church of Christ, Smithville Church of God, Sober Living Services (Omega House), Turn Key Bail Bonding, & Volunteer Behavioral Health. The DeKalb County Recovery Court program is funded by multiple sources which include State funded grants through the TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, court fees and fines of individuals charged with drug or alcohol related charges, additional funding appropriated through the County Commission and through donations of time from the Honorable Judge Bratten Hale Cook II, the Office of the District Attorney General, the Office of the District Public Defender , Sheriff Patrick Ray, Haven of Hope Counseling and Community Probation Services.