Claremore Daily Progress

January 16, 2013

Rogers County Drug Court impacts recovery

Salesha Wilken
Staff Reporter

CLAREMORE — Every other Friday afternoon, the Drug Court Docket consists of individuals trying to make a life change.

Judge Sheila Condren listens to each individual guiding his-or-her recovery through her rulings.
The dockets, which seems to be normal court procedure to the casual observer, are proving to be anything but.
Condren has reached drug offenders on a different level and seeing success in the process.
Drug Court does not normally take first time offender,s and is governed by state statutes, but the program is giving many a second chance.
There are strict limits on the ability of the court to work with first time offenders.
The following quotes and comments were made by actual participants in the program during a recent court hearing. No names have been provided to protect their identity.
Story after story, the participants or clients report their progress to Condren at the mandatory court hearing.
The program is very structure, according to Condren.
The requirements for participants are much more demanding then just serving time with the Department of Corrections.
The Drug Court Program is rehabilitating drug offenders, but most importantly as demonstrated in one afternoon, it is changing lives.
Each participant takes a few minutes before the judge to report his or her progress.
Story after story unfolds as the participants talk about how the problems in life impact drug addiction and recovery.
“I have never been put on my feet just to have someone else knock them out from beneath me,” one man said as he revealed that he likely would be sentence to prison by another county.
The man has been working in the Rogers County Drug Court system and with the jail ministry.
He reports that he is 519 days sober, yet on going legal battles in another court may put an end to his recovery. 
“I was raised without a dad because he was in prison I don’t want my daughter to go thru the same thing,” he said.
He pleads to the court, not to be removed from his accountability, but for advice on how to deal with the situation.
Condren is patient and kind as she explains that he has learned to cope and overcome. Despite the challenges, he will find a way to survive and continue his recovery.
The judge is understanding but firm, always explaining that the participants are responsible for their own lives.
She challenges them to know specifically how many days they have been sober, as a reminder of where they have been and where they are going.
After only 15 minutes,many different stories were told.
Many echoed the same sentiment, “It feels good to do the right thing, be responsible.”
One father talked about his relationship with his children. The children did not have the opportunity to have a father, when he was using drugs.
“I am more responsible now. I own a home. I am better father and have a better relationship with my family now after being two years sober,” the father said.
Many participants talked about the success that comes with working for a living. They spoke with excitement about being employed full-time or even being promoted to management.
Getting a drivers license and paying the bills may seem normal to most, but these participants see them as milestones on the road to recovery.
Condren delights in the accomplishments of the participants as she helps them work towards a goal.
Overcoming drug addiction allows them to becoming active and productive in society.
Some participants do not want to accept their addiction or the program’s strict rules.
Some participants miss appointment or have diluted urine tests in efforts to avoid testing positive for drug use.
These clients are met with a firm hand and Condren does not waste time explaining the full consequences for their actions.
There are consequences for missing appointments, including simply being late for urine tests, according to Condren.
“What is it going to take for you? You seem to be screaming send me to prison, send me to prison,” Condren said to one young woman.
That woman has been sober for 29 days and is struggling with relapse.
Condren works to make each participant see the benefit of the program, but more importantly the value in themselves.
The court promotes community service and community involvement. 
One participant spoke about taking his family to deliver gifts in low-income communities in Tulsa. 
Others spoke of church programs and work with the area angel trees.
Many of the participants are working on improving their lives through education.
Some are currently perusing educational opportunities at local technology centers or community colleges.
“So many people start the program and think their life is over because they can’t drink or do drugs,” Condren said.
Graduates in the program stay connected through the alumni program, which aids long-term recovery, according to Condren.
Condren is just one of many people working in the drug court program in an effort to help drug addicts find recovery.
“You have to want to make this change in your life,” Condren said.