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Commission increases funding for county drug court program

Sun Advocate community editor

Carbon commissioners have decided to increase the county's financial support for the local drug court program.

Four Corners Behavioral Health administrative director Jan Bodily approached the Carbon County Commission for the financial assistance due to statewide budget cuts that will affect the substance abuse treatment facility in many facets, including the felony and family drug court programs.

As the county has supported the program from its onset, the commissioners were open to increasing the funds and opened local government's upcoming budget to allow for a $67,000 increase to the program.

According to Bodily, the program will take up to a 20 percent cut in state funding for a program that has proven to be successful at locations across the nation.

Started in 2005, the Carbon County program has gone a long way

Drug court participants are screened by a group consisting of:

•Four Corners staff.

•Carbon County Sheriff's Office.

•The accused criminal offender's attorney.

•The county prosecutor.

•The drug court judge.

Once accepted into the drug court, individuals are put through an intensive five phase program that has immediate sanctions and incentives based upon the participants' behavior.

"The program has been incredibly successful," said Four Corners substance treatment coordinator Curtis Sudweeks. "I think the drug court is so successful due to several factors including the amount of support given, intensity of the treatment and the longevity of the program."

Sudweeks reported the conventional treatment method can have a 20 percent rate of success, whereas drug court programs are seeing between 50 percent and 70 percent of their clients have sustained recovery.

"When we screen for the program, we look for individuals who have committed a felony that may be conducive to treatment," explained the treatment coordinator. "Large scale distributors and violent offenders are usually not admitted to the program."

The current felony program has five phases that can last for anywhere from 12 to 15 weeks.

The final phase of the program focuses on weening participants off of intensive treatment.

Participants are required to report to their assigned tracker and four corners daily.

They also must complete the center's intensive outpatient program (IOP) and submit to random urinalysis via a state-of-the-art process that detects agents which have traditionally caused problems by hiding abuse from substance treatment professionals.

The felony drug court has slots for up to 30 clients, while the family program can handle up to 15 participants.

However, Sudweeks in dicated that the family drug court has tried to stay closer to about 10 individuals because of worries about ongoing state funding.

"Originally, the programs were funding by federal, state and county monies," commented the Four Corners representative. "However, the federal money was always meant to seed the program and then back off. It is state and county monies that we rely on to keep the program running."

At the present point in time, the county's felony drug court program is servicing 22 individuals with one applicant being considered.

However, one of the redeeming points of the program is that all participants in the county drug court are required to perform community service work hours throughout their time in the court and as a project before graduation.

According to the drug court staff the projects and ongoing service are meant to teach participants that giving back to the community is a vital part of their recovery.

"This program is working," concluded Sudweeks. "We need to do whatever is necessary to keep it working in this community."

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