DUI/drug court holds graduation

Published 7:01 pm Thursday, November 7, 2019

On Thursday evening, the 30th Troup County DUI/Drug Court group celebrated its graduation with the team that helped them overcome addiction.

The graduates successfully completed a full program of testing, counseling and monitoring. DUI/Drug Court is offered as an alternative to jail time, and it aims to help participants address their addiction instead of just punishing them for the crimes they committed under it.

“When you all started out, you had mountains to climb,” said Judge Nina Markette Baker, the keynote speaker at the event. “It was from all kinds of obstacles. You had addiction to face. You had health problems to face. You had family issues to face. You had financial problems to deal with because of what you were going through.”

Thursday’s graduation program was the first that Baker attended as a speaker instead of a team member, and she said that she was proud of all the graduates, all of which began while she was the Troup County solicitor general.

“What I want you to do is to make sure that you’re taking the time to enjoy this moment,” Baker said. “Enjoy that and take a deep breath and think about all the things that you have accomplished, but know going forward, it’s not just an easy street. It is still work. It is still a significant amount of work.”

Baker encouraged the graduates to ask for help when they need it, and she reminded them that there are people and resources available to provide that help. She and a graduate speaker both encouraged them not to throw away all of their hard work by returning to old habits once they complete the program.

“They have done a tremendous amount of work in maintaining their sobriety,” Judge Jeannette Little said. “They are not graduating unless we have certified that for at least 90 days — usually way more than that with no alcohol, no drug use. … These people have worked very hard.”

Little said that not everyone is able to get through the court, but the DUI/Drug Court Team repeated throughout the ceremony that they hoped that the men and women would do great things after graduation.

“Now that you are graduating, you are going on to a new phase, and we hope what you have learned in those three phases will carry on with you in your next phase and be better for each one of you, especially for your families,” said Marc Acree, the defense council on the DUI/Drug Court board.