WEST LOGAN — Many people have a lot to be thankful for this time of the year, but for dozens of people gathered at the West Logan Church of God Tues., Nov. 26, the main one was being thankful for a second chance at a normal life.
The meeting hall at the church was filled with the clients and staff of the Logan Regional Day Report Centers from Logan, Mingo, Boone and Lincoln Counties who had gathered together for a very special and different kind of holiday meal.
State Senator Art Kirkendoll was on hand, as were other special guests including Willie Akers, Danny Godby and Rocky Adkins of the Logan County Commission, Logan Circuit Judge Roger Perry and Chief Probation Officer Charles Brown and retired Logan Probation Officer Kay Browning.
Kirkendoll was the first guest speaker and he discussed how important it is for people who have been caught up in the legal system due to drug and alcohol abuse to take advantage of the opportunities that programs like Day Report and Drug Court offer to rebuild their lives and become contributing members of society again.
“These programs are important and we have seen people turn their lives around through them,” Kirkendoll told The Logan Banner prior to the dinner’s beginning. “Logan County has been fortunate because our County Commission has always supported these programs from the time when they were just new ideas, our probation officers like Kay Browning and Charles Brown were interested in them and our judges were also open minded in seeing what could be done in a different way to help people rebuild their lives.”
At the podium, Kirkendoll expanded on those statements.
“Once upon a time, there was only jail, prison or probation,” Kirkendoll said. “If you did not get probation there was not much of an alternative.”
Kirkendoll said he was glad that the Logan County Commission had always been supportive of Day Report and Drug Court, from fighting to get them started — to supporting them in other ways — including finding space for the programs to be housed.
“But when I got to the state senate, I started seeing these programs and their effect on more of a state-wide level,” Kirkendoll said, noting that not everybody will have the advantage or the opportunity to get into such programs.
Kirkendoll asked the clients present at the dinner to take the opportunity Day Report and Drug Court had created for them to get clean and sober and become contributing members of society.
“And don’t come back, unless it is to help,” he quipped.
The dinner had two more special guest speakers who spoke from a more inside point-of-view.
One young man from Lincoln County discussed how alcoholism and drug addiction had caused him to spend half his adult life locked up behind bars and how he was able to climb out of the pit of misery his life had become and find recovery through Drug Court and other treatment programs.
“I was not the kind of guy who ever would have been expected to speak in public following a state senator,” the second speaker said, noting his problems with alcohol and drugs actually began before he abused them, explaining that as a child he would rebel and act out in order to get attention. In his teen years he began drinking and getting into trouble… this was followed buy substance abuse and in time he had racked up numerous arrests. The man admitted that he did not respond well to treatment at first.
“I also had a problem with authority,” he noted.
However, despite numerous setbacks due to failed drug screens he started on the road to redemption and recovery when he hit rock bottom and decided “I could no longer continue to live like that.”
A stint in an in-patient treatment facility helped him. So did working the steps in a 12-step recovery program. Later when he went to an assisted living facility for after-care one of his old problems — the anti-authority attitude flared up again with the assistant director of the facility, he noted. However he got past that problem too.
“That man became my sponsor in the 12-step program,” he said, noting that with hard work and the help of a lot of people he managed to
rebuild his life. Before, he was unable to spend time around his children. Today, they live with him. Before, he often woke up on friend’s couches. “Today, I wake up at my own place in my own bed,” he said, explaining that he got his driver’s license back and he also managed to get married along the way.
The third speaker was a young woman who now works with others at a treatment facility. She also documented her journey from addiction to recovery. As a young girl in school she found no contentment in sports or academics, even though she was good at them. Alcohol and Drugs wound up causing her to spend time in treatment centers and jail. She noted the first time she went to a treatment facility it did not affect her as much as it should have because she had not hit bottom yet. After returning home she wound up falling back upon alcohol and drugs abuse and wound up in trouble. An extensive stay in jail was what it took for her to realize that the path she was on was not the way to find happiness or satisfaction in life. She discussed how treatment programs and the people in them helped her change her life for the better to find sobriety and happiness.