Pubdate: Mon, 29 Dec 2003
Source: Mobile Register (AL)
Copyright: 2003 Mobile Register.
Author: Connie Baggett, Staff Reporter


BREWTON -- Richard Allen Faulkner, 43, sat nervously with his bag
packed at his feet in the courtroom.

Too many times in recent weeks, he had faced the judge knowing he
would spend time in jail for using crack cocaine. Faulkner is an
addict struggling to beat his cravings and stay in an alternative
sentencing program, Escambia County Drug Court, that could wipe out
felony charges and help him start a new life.

But he needs to find a way to stay clean and sober, he

Faulkner said his fall into addiction began with beers he would take
from his father's cooler. He quit school before he made it to ninth
grade, and before he was 20 he was working in the oil fields, making
good money as an electrician.

He used a variety of illegal drugs, but became addicted to crack. It
cost him his marriage, his job and everything he ever owned. After
months of not using, Faulkner failed drug tests at least four times
since the summer.

He relapsed in July and spent a weekend in jail. He used crack again
in September and went to jail for a week. He was released from jail
but tested positive again on Oct. 13, landing him in jail for two
weeks. Three days after his release, he used again. A drug test at a
treatment class confirmed what he at first denied.

He knew he would be going back to jail, he said, and he asked program
organizers to find a treatment program where he would be confined for
a while. He brought his clothes and other belongings knowing he would
be locked up.

"I can't figure it out," Faulkner said. He sat with others who failed
drug tests or who missed required meetings in the program. "I can't
seem to get through those first three days. I made a mistake by
hanging around the wrong person. I can work with the cravings if I'm
on my own, but with someone else there leading me off, I lose."

He said he was with some of his old friends, then drank a beer or two.
That led to the crack. "I know I can't do anything like that. I always
want a bigger high. Once I had used, I knew I had messed up. More
crack was coming, but I got a ride home."

Faulkner took his belongings and walked to jail with the others,
sharing one last cigarette before lock up.

"The holidays kind of bring me down," he said. "I got depressed, and I
know some people don't want me to make it. I've come so close to
breaking that edge, the hold it has on me. I thank all the people in
the program for being patient. I need an in-house treatment. I'm not
giving up."

Faulkner said he has faith in the people who run drug court, and he
can see progress he's made since he entered the program in the spring.

"I don't think about stealing anything anymore," Faulkner said. "I
know I'll always have addiction in the back of my mind. The treatment
has done a lot for me. I've just got this last part I have to learn to
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