Pubdate: Sun, 25 Dec 2011
Source: Daytona Beach News-Journal (FL)
Copyright: 2011 News-Journal Corporation
Author: Julie Murphy, Staff Writer


BUNNELL -- A dark-haired girl wearing a sandwich board smiled and
waved at passing motorists along Moody Boulevard in Bunnell.

Suzanne Garrison wasn't hawking coffee or tax services. Her message
was personal -- "Drug Court Works."

"I've been addicted to oxycodone since I was 18," the 21-year-old
said, standing on the shoulder of the roadway in front of the Kim C.
Hammond Justice Center. "I get treatments through the courts."

Drug Court is a supervised, comprehensive treatment program for those
charged with non-violent drug-related felonies, according to
information provided on Flagler County's website by coordinator Mike

Regular court appearances, substance-abuse counseling, random drug
testing and support group participation are mandatory.

Garrison entered the voluntary program in late September and was
sharing the message as part of her community service hours.

"I don't want to live like that every day anymore," she said. "I chose
to do this to fulfill some of my hours. I'm an artist and I want to
redo the sign to make it nicer."

While she said she wasn't "the worst" addict, Garrison was ready for

"I wasn't taking 20 or 30 pills a day like some people do," she said.
"I was only taking seven to 10 pills a day, but I had started IV-ing
(taking the drugs intravenously)."

In and out of jail on felony drug charges since January, Garrison said
it was a blessing when family members forced her into treatment
through the Marchman Act and the courts later took over.

Her twin sister, Kaitlin Garrison, said it was a tough decision made
by several family members.

"My older brother signed the papers," said Kaitlin Garrison. "It's
been really hard for about a year and a half. She wasn't my sister
(anymore). You have to seek help (for your loved ones). You take the
roller coaster up and down (with them) but you have to do it."

She's seen her sister steadily "return" since entering Drug

"Since she's been in the program, she's the old Suzanne I used to
know," Kaitlin Garrison said. "She really wants people to know there's
help out there."

Suzanne Garrison believes oxycodone is as big of a problem for those
addicted to it as heroin.

"It's the epidemic that gets everyone, and I was slipping away,"
Suzanne Garrison said. "I had been going to school, Daytona State for
digital media, but I quit because of the drugs.

"I want to go back to school."

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Drug Court facts

- - Nationwide, 75 percent of participants remain arrest-free at least
two years after leaving the program.

- - Drug Court is more effective than other sentencing options and is
proven to reduce subsequent offenses by as much 35 percent.

- - Every dollar invested in Drug Court saves taxpayers as much as $3.36
in avoided criminal justice costs.

- - Prison costs, reduced "revolving door arrests and trials," as well
as reduced victimization saves taxpayers between $4,000 and $12,000
per participant.

SOURCE: National Association of Drug Court Professionals.
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MAP posted-by: Richard R Smith Jr.