I was reminded this week how drug and alcohol addiction affects all of us. Everyone knows someone struggling with addiction, be it to alcohol, street drugs, or prescription drugs. Addiction is persistent and tough to beat. It doesn’t prey on any one group of people; it is not a poor people’s problem. It doesn’t mean a person wasn’t raised right, or anything else. It is simply something that you must beat.
In my line of work I see a lot of people struggling with addiction. I see people in all stages of addiction and recovery. I’ve seen the cries for help, the denial, the manipulation, the anger, the shame. When they’re available, I always offer drug diversion court as an option. Diversion courts vary by county (some have them, others do not; when they exist, the parameters are different in each county). A frequent example though, is drug diversion court.
Drug diversion court usually consists of a full-blown rehabilitation program wrapped up in a diversion program as an incentive to successfully complete the program. Simply put: if you complete the program, your case is dismissed and you’re eligible for an expunction (removal from your record). It doesn’t get better than that. The lawyer side of me knows this is a fantastic option because my client has the chance to have this charge erased from their record. Regardless of the severity of the charge (but especially when the case is a felony), that’s a life-changing chance. The non-lawyer side of me knows that diversion is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at serious rehab.
I’m never surprised (because addiction is one tough monster to throw off your back), but it’s always disheartening to hear people’s excuses for why they can’t do the diversion program. It’s too long. It meets too many times a week. I have other things going on. What do you have going on that’s more important than changing your life? What’s a year (or two, or ten) out of your life if it keeps you out of prison, if it raises you up out of poverty, if it literally changes the direction of your life? I’ve yet to hear an adequate answer to that that doesn’t include, “you’re right, I’ll do it.”