Drug Treatment Court success: ‘All I knew was chaos’

The Edmonton Drug Treatment Court Service is an intensive one-year (minimum) court-supervised drug treatment program aimed at helping participants break the cycle of crime
and addiction. The program sees participants completing drug treatment rather than being
incarcerated. Successful graduates return to the community with access to secure housing,
employment or schooling, as well as the tools to continue in their recovery.

The success of the drug court program is evident through its graduates, who are at a much lower risk to re-offend. Albertans who complete the program participate in a graduation ceremony in the courtroom where their success is celebrated with friends, family, mentors, former graduates and
stakeholders who play a part in supporting them through their journey.

Jeremie (his name has been changed to protect his identity) is one of those success stories. Read his story below. You can also read here about Alanna’s journey to a clean life.

Jeremie moved out on his own at the age of 14. He was in foster care at a young age, due to his parents’ addictions issues. He then experienced experienced abuse at the hands of those who were supposed to take care of him.

“I had trust and abandonment issues, issues with authority, after that,” he says. He had begun selling drugs at the age of 12. “I felt there was a void, and I had been the reason my parents were addicted. Selling drugs made me feel like I had a purpose and value.”

During that time, Jeremie experienced the loss of friends from drugs, had been stabbed and shot at, and overdosed multiple times. “How many times can you cheat death? I realised I was doing things to people that others did to my parents.”

He managed to get sober on his own for three months, but relapsed on opioids before getting clean again by attending a treatment program. However, his past caught up with him when he was arrested on trafficking charges. Facing a year in jail, he worried about how his progress might be stopped.

“I’m sure I would have relapsed in jail,” he says. “If it wasn’t for my lawyer telling me about drug court, I don’t know what life would be like for me.”

The people Jeremie has met in the program have helped him build a better life. “I have made bonds with people who I’ll know the rest of my life. It’s such an incredible family.”

He says the accountability helps drive him to be involved in the program and humbled him.

“Drug court is helping me learn to live my life. It’s a fantastic program.”

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