A Special Day: Free from Drugs and Drug Court

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Champaign- For some drug users it has been a lifelong battle to end substance abuse. For others, it has only been a few years. Regardless of how long it's been, people in the Champaign County Drug Court program are tired of living a life of substance abuse.

Kaleb Shields said he got addicted to, "prescription pain killers, opioids and marijuana." He added, "it made me forget about everything. It made me feel euphoric. It made me elevated. It made me feel indestructible."

For April Bagtas, she needed a glass of alcohol after she was let go from managing a Rantoul Family Dollar store. A job she said she reported to for 11 years.

It's not just Bagtas and Shields who needed to change their behaviors, distractive decisions have led 60 people in and out of the Champaign County  Courthouse recently.

"I have people in the 50's and 60's who are just tired of living the life they have been living, but they don't know how to change it," said Champaign Circuit County Judge Jeffrey Ford.

He will ship individuals behind bars or to drug court.

"We do everything from having them right an essay, to public service work, to a day in jail," added Judge Ford.

Champaign County Drug Court is a program that has been in place since 2000. Judge Ford meets with counselors every Monday. His goal is to turn a lying individual to one who tells the truth.

Counselor Laurie Britt helps Judge Ford reach his goal. 

"It's just something I think I'm born with. I love helping people. I'm a passionate person. I'm sensitive and I actually in my family have a lot of addiction," said Laurie Britt.

For Shields and others, Monday was a day to rejoice. 

"This is going to be with me for the rest of my life and they gave me the tools to remain sober and I'm extremely fortunate to be where I'm at today and I wouldn't be without them," said Shields.

Twelve individuals in the program graduated on Monday. It was the 38th graduation since 2000 and 218 people have completed the program since then.
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