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YOUNGSTOWN Counselor:Drug court loses some



Published: Tue, July 16, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Treatment for an addiction does not guarantee lifelong recovery.

By SHERRI L. SHAULIS

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Counselors who work with the chemically dependent say it's hard to tell who will succeed and who may relapse.

"Everyone faces their own set of hurdles when overcoming addictions, and none of them are easy," said Dr. Brad Price, clinical director of Glenbeigh Hospital in Rock Creek, Ashtabula County. The hospital operates several satellite recovery centers for alcohol and drug addiction, including Glenbeigh Center of Niles on North Road.

The first four participants of a drug court program attended a graduation ceremony Friday in Judge Douglas' courtroom. One, Peter A. Polando, 48, of Noel Drive, Youngstown, died after leadingpolice in Campbell on a high-speed chase about 1 a.m. Sunday.

Police observed him in what they termed "a drug transaction in progress" and attempted to investigate. Polando drove at high rates of speed throughout the city before crashing into a utility pole and stone wall on Wilson Avenue. He died at the scene.

When police searched his vehicle, two rocks of suspected crack cocaine were recovered.

Polando had been in the drug court program after his arrest last August in Youngstown. He told officers at that time that he had a crack problem and could not go to jail, or he would lose his job. He had taught for five years at Champion Middle School, but did not teach any classes after his arrest last year and had since resigned.

More reaction

"The vast majority of people who try to kick their addictions have some leverage behind them, whether or not it is a court order," Price said. "They always have someone behind them who is hurting; somebody out there is urging, pleading, suggesting that these patients get help for themselves."

Most addicts, he noted, do not stay sober for extended periods of time for others; they need to be motivated to do it for themselves.

"It's not always easy to identify people who are willing to follow through with the recommendations they get in recovery," he said.

Here in the Valley

In an effort to help people get the treatment they need, courts across the country are looking at innovate ways to handle drug and alcohol cases. In Mahoning County, Judge Robert A. Douglas Jr. of Youngstown Municipal Court started the drug court based on a similar program established by Judge Jack Durkin in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Participants plead guilty to their drug offense, then enter the program. If they successfully complete the program designed for their individual needs, which takes 10 months or so, the charge is dismissed.

High relapse rates

According to information from the Web site Alcohol & amp; Drug Abuse.com, relapse rates for those who achieve sobriety through community-based support organizations, such as Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, are very high.

Likewise, the Web site states, addiction treatment cannot guarantee lifelong recovery; relapse is often a part of the recovery process.

"The more we learn about addiction, the more effective treatment becomes," the site states. "Even though current treatment methods are far from perfect, today's treatment providers are being challenged to stretch their knowledge base and find more effective approaches to prevention, intervention and treatment."

Price said there is little difference in the recovery success rates of those who willingly enter treatment and those who are ordered to enter.

"What makes the difference is if they realize what is at stake, and make an effort to follow through with treatment recommendations for themselves," he said.

slshaulis@vindy.com




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