Given a Second Chance with Drug Court

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“If anyone takes anything away from this, I would hope that it would be that you should never give up on yourself! With hard work and persistence, you too, can achieve any goals you put your mind to; so just be patient, your time will come.”  Doug


Doug was born and raised in Spokane, Washington and he had three siblings in his family. “I was five when my mother decided to take us kids and leave my dad because of constant drug use. He would literally take every bit of my mom’s money, leaving us nothing to live on, forcing us to live on the streets, in campers, and any other places that my mom could manage to provide at the time. Sometimes my mom would have up to three jobs at a time, and would be gone all the time just to make ends meet. We hardly saw her.”

Around the second grade, Doug’s family started to be more stable, however, the babysitter watching the children as Doug’s mom worked started physically and mentally abusing them. Because of this, Doug started lashing out at other kids and teachers at school and soon found himself in counseling and therapy sessions every week. This is something that was very hard for Doug to be a part of and he really hated it at the time because he was already unpopular at school, being bullied and made fun of all the time. Doug was a wreck! After starting junior high, Doug got expelled for assaulting a teacher. Doug was then home-schooled for a year and took some computer classes that helped him grow academically. “I remember that if I did not get A’s & B’s, my mom would delete my work and make me do it all over again. It was already hard and I was just trying to do my best.”

Finally making the transition to high school, Doug wanted more than anything, to just fit in. “I just wanted to fit in so badly. There was no limit as to what I would do to be accepted by the other kids, but having the fear of being rejected is what really drove me to start smoking pot and drinking. Then I found myself using ecstasy, mushrooms, and LSD while attending weekend parties”. At the end of Doug’s senior year, he was skateboarding and was run over by a 97’ Chevy Blazer.  He was hospitalized and almost died. Because of the accident, Doug also missed his finals at school and decided not to go back. “I was introduced to pain medication from the doctor and became dependent on them, which started me on the path of an opiate addiction that earned me a handle by the name of “DT The Legend.” That is not something that Doug is proud of today.

Doug soon became gang affiliated and was committing crimes to pay for his drug habit. He was also an enforcer and would kick in people’s doors and collect debts owed to him or his fellow gang member’s/ dealers.  After numerous arrests and being in and out of jail numerous times, he was hitting the bottom fast.  After living a hard life in the fast lane he wanted to get clean, but felt lost, as if he felt he was never going to have a life again. Everyone in his family stopped communicating with him, except his mom on occasion.

 When Doug was in jail and in his late 20’s, detectives came to talk with him about some crimes that he was involved in, and at this point, Doug just wanted to get better and stay off of drugs, so he confessed. “I felt like I had nothing left to go back to, no family, no home and I was living on the streets, sleeping anywhere I could; now I was looking at seven years in prison! It was over as I knew it.”

After six months of sitting in jail, the prosecutors kept adding more and more charges and Doug felt like he was at a loss. His attorney came to him one day and offered Doug the opportunity to participate in the Spokane County Therapeutic Drug Court at Pioneer’s Emerson Clinic. Doug was told that he would be a perfect candidate for the program. Doug accepted and thought there might be some hope. He was released from Geiger Correctional facility and walked to Pioneer Counseling-Emerson Clinic, where he enrolled in the drug court program.

“I was extremely nervous because all you heard in jail about drug court was how hard the program was and I figured that I would probably fail. However, all I could think about was how lucky I was to be given an opportunity for a second chance and to learn how to battle my addiction. I could show people I am not a danger to society or a hopeless cause. Instead, I wanted to show people that change is possible and no matter what kind of background you come from, you can leave that life of drugs and crime to get healthy and become a solid member of the community as well”.

Doug said that at first the drug court program was a lot of work, but as he opened up more and learned new information about addiction, it felt less like work. He really tried to go through it slow and get as much out of the program as possible. He also says that he had his ups and downs, but through the programming, it showed him the areas that he needed to work on and improve. Pioneer counselors worked with Doug through many of his struggles and by the time he entered phase three of the program he had changed most of his bad habits and was showing great improvement.

I was asked if I wanted to take Pioneer’s job- readiness workshops to help me build up my skill set, work on a resume and cover letter, and practice interviewing to be able to get a good job. I accepted and through the Roadmap to Success workshops, taught by Pioneer’s employment specialist, Joseph Parham, I have learned how to properly present myself on paper and in-person when looking for a job, and how to search for jobs on all of the online career sites. I also worked on a 'Letter of Explanation' to help me explain my scarred past. It was great to learn that there are training programs like Pioneer’s and people who care enough to believe in me,” Doug stated.

Doug has recently enrolled at Spokane Community College, which was one of his goals that he thought would never happen. Now that he has a “New Found Hope” and a chance at living life again, he is confident in what the future holds for him. “I am now a part of my family again, said Doug. With the combination of his family being so proud of him, along with the changes and milestones that he has achieved through Pioneer Counselling and the Spokane County Drug Court program, he can say with confidence that “I can accomplish my goals.”

Joseph Parham, Pioneer employment specialist in Spokane, “Doug is such an inspiration to me as an employment specialist because his hope reinforces my hope and his success is our success. We can all learn from our trials in life, but those who have overcome, become!”