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Two Graduate Drug Court, Court Celebrates 10 Years Of Helping Addicts
Updated October 30, 2015 8:14 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Some special guest attended the graduated Lawrence County Drug Court in celebration of its 10 years of helping others overcome their addictions.

Lawrence Superior Court II Judge William Sleva and his team oversees and administers Drug Court, a program which offers those who have committed crimes with drugs and or alcohol - a second chance. The program is an intensive attempt to rehabilitate and reform offenders who have problems with addiction.

The graduates were honored with the presence Chief Justice of the Indiana Supreme Court of Chief Justice Loretta Rush, Senator Brent Steele and Representative Eric Koch.

"This is a monumental occasion," Rush says. "A beginning to a much larger step for these graduates. It (Drug Court) is a non-traditional approach to an issue in our state... I want to thank the entire team. Judge Sleva is like a proud pappa... It's like a Super Bowl watching them cross the goal line."

Chief Justice Rush says the Drug Court program is growing. In 2005 there were only 41 Drug Courts in the state, today that number has grown to 71 with 10 more pending approval.

"This is justice tempered with mercy," she added. "Isn't it wonderful people can change."

Today two graduated the program.

Michael Gentry began smoking marijuana at the age of 15.

"I had an alcoholic father that beat me daily," Gentry told the crowd. " I smoked daily to deal with the abuse."

At the age of 18, Gentry found out the man he believed to be his father was not. That is when he began taking Valium daily.

"Then it was Xanax," he added. "I continued to smoke marijuana and taking the pills till I was 21."

On his 21st birthday he turned to alcohol.

"It was my birthday and my then wife and mother took me to the bar and bought me a shot," he added. "I fell in love... I felt happy and stress free."

He began drinking daily.

"Alcohol became my best friend," he says. "My wife then gave me a choice; her and my two children or the alcohol. I chose the alcohol."

Then Gentry got hurt working at the quarry.

"I injured my back and was given Oxycodone and added that to my daily ritual," Gentry added.

He lost his driver's license after two operating a vehicle while intoxicated. With the last one enhanced with the charge of endangerment.

"I spent all my money on drugs and alcohol," he says. "Lost my home, was laid off work, moved in with my mother and step-father. Then I started using meth."

That is when he entered into Drug Court.

His life is now changed.

"I opened my eyes," he added. "I am a much happier person... I have been sober 23 months. My relationship with my family, children and brothers has been restored... I am proud of who I am and who I have become and best of all my children are proud of me."

A 28-year-old woman who also graduated not only changed herself but is giving back by helping to start Celebrate Recovery at Free Methodist Church on R Street in Bedford. The purpose of the program is to fellowship and celebrate God's healing power in lives through the 8 Recovery Principles and Christ-Centered 12 steps program.

"Owning our story and ourselves is the most powerful thing we will ever do," she told the filled courtroom. "Each day brings new struggles but brings hope."

Her journey began in 2013 when she was arrested and spent two months in jail before entering the Drug Court program.

"My addiction consumed me," she added. "My every thought and action fed my addiction."

Narcotics were her answer to face life.

"I didn't realize the reality of the damage my addiction caused," she added. "Drug court have me an opportunity to find myself. I was ashamed... you expected me and helped me."

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