HUNTINGTON — Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Greg Howard said of the 60 people accepted into the county’s adult drug court program at any given time, only about half will go on to graduate.

The Cabell County Adult Drug Court program requires at least a year of random drug screenings, group and individual therapy sessions, weekly court hearings, regular employment and overall lifestyle changes. For those who can handle it, the program gives an opportunity for a second chance in life.

Four people celebrated their second chances on Monday, graduating from the program during a ceremony before a courtroom of family, friends and current drug court participants.

Robyn Sullivan spoke directly to those current participants when reflecting on her time in the program. She fled from the program more than a year ago before her probation officer persuaded her to come back. She now sponsors others in recovery and has made therapy work her profession.

“What we have in drug court is called an honest relapse. That’s the time we go get high one more time and then call our POs and let them know that we did it,” Sullivan said. “What they don’t mention is that you may not walk back through that door. That one warning that you get might be your last one.”

Wanda Riffe, drug court therapist, said she was proud to watch Sullivan’s journey and to see her spread her knowledge of recovery to others.

Travis Hale completed his drug court requirements after about a year within the program, which sometimes takes people two years or more to accomplish. Nancy Roach completed the program without any bumps in the road, which could have included warnings, sanctions or jail time, Howard said.

Hale and Roach absorbed what the program was trying to teach them and made the most of their new opportunities, said Matt Meadows, drug court probation officer.

“They stopped trying to tell me what they think I want to hear and actually started to internalize some of the stuff they are hearing in these meetings,” Meadows said.

Matt Anderson completed the program after being transferred from Kanawha County Drug Court. Howard said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but Anderson proved himself without receiving any sanctions.

Anderson’s probation officer, Lauren Dodrill, said she saw how kind and giving he was to others who needed it. She’s currently on maternity leave, but sent her congratulations via Meadows.

“Specifically she wanted me to highlight Matt Anderson’s heart, how giving and caring he is for other people and how much he gives of himself to other people,” Meadows said.

Monday’s graduation was attended by West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Justice Evan Jenkins and Nick Leftwich, state drug court coordinator. Jenkins said he spent time before the graduation ceremony meeting with family and friends who supported the graduates throughout their journey.

“That’s what it’s all about. It’s the network support,” Jenkins said. “We don’t go through life in a journey by ourselves. It takes a lot of people around us.”

Leftwich said success in drug court comes to those that trust the process and follow through with it.

“For those that are currently in drug court, you will have your day up here if you trust that process,” Leftwich said.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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