Pubdate: Thu, 18 Aug 2005
Source: Messenger-Inquirer (KY)
Copyright: 2005 Messenger-Inquirer
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


When the Messenger-Inquirer published a series of articles in May
describing the multiple facets of this community's efforts to fight
drug and substance abuse, it became quickly evident that gaps in those
services existed. That isn't surprising, considering the enormity of
the problem. It was discouraging, however, to learn that treatment
programs for adolescents was one of the areas missing in action.

To keep today's teenagers with addiction problems from becoming the
next generation of hard-core adult drug abusers is a mission that must
not be ignored and cannot be hindered by a lack of resources and
prevention and treatment options. The stakes are simply too high for
the young people involved and the community as a whole.

At about the time those articles appeared, a new program to help
teenagers struggling with addiction was just getting off the ground in
Daviess County. Today we applaud the fact that the juvenile drug court
program has nine participants, and that number is expected to more
than double in short order.

The juvenile drug court program is the product of the efforts of local
youth advocates, substance abuse counselors and judges. The program
has a full-time manager in Kyle Newcom and may be serving as many as
25 teens by the end of the year. For now, however, it will feel its
way along, allowing all involved to learn the best ways to help young
people who have few other places to turn for real help.

"We don't want to move too fast at first," Daviess District Judge Joe
Castlen said. "Any time you try something new, you're going to have
bumps in the road that you need to work through."

Like 13 other juvenile drug courts in Kentucky, the Daviess County
program diverts qualified defendants from jail time and offers them
counseling while testing them for drug and alcohol use and requiring

In addition to meeting once a week with Castlen, participants attend
group and individual counseling sessions with Newcom and other
professional counselors.

The program doesn't ignore issues that typically contribute to
substance abuse by adolescents or occur as a result, including low
self-esteem, emotional problems and difficulty managing the everyday
matters of their lives.

Attempts to establish a juvenile drug court here started more than
four years ago. But finding money to make it a reality proved
difficult. Financing obstacles were finally removed last fall when
state and local sources produced $33,000.

Securing future funding for the program may turn out to be as
frustratingly difficult as finding the start-up cash. For the sake of
the teenagers who desperately need a substance-free life, we hope that
isn't the case.

To Castlen and everyone else who doggedly pursued the program, we say
thank you for providing the community a great service. In turn, the
community needs to get squarely behind this good effort to help young
people shake their addiction problems and have a real chance at
becoming productive, happy adults.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Derek