The Shelby County Drug Court has traded jail time for drum circles and reflective meditation, a holistic approach that's shown positive results for some of the county's drug and alcohol addicts.
Three years ago, the drug court teamed up with the HART Center, which uses acupuncture, drum circles, and deep meditative reflection to help patients. Today, the drug court is boasting positive results from that seemingly unlikely pairing.
Jane Abraham, one of the founders of the HART Center, said that addicts don't typically get exposed to holistic treatment in other facilities.
"Our treatments get you more in touch with the feelings inside, the physical and spiritual aspects of rehabilitation," Abraham said. "We see people come in very strung-out but leave extremely balanced. We consider everyone here a big family, and that openness really helps people feel welcome."
In addition to group therapy three times a week for three hours, clients of the HART Center also take Lifestyle Shaping courses and undergo experimental therapy sessions that incorporate music as a mechanism for dealing with early dependency withdrawal.
The Shelby County Drug Courtwas started in 1997 by Judge Tim Dwyer, after he saw what he calls a "revolving door" of people with drug and alcohol problems coming through his courtroom. Dwyer started implementing alternative sentences to the people who weren't getting the treatment they needed in jail.
And, while drug court offers an alternative to serving time, it's certainly not an easy way out for the participant. Among many other requirements, clients of drug court must enter a 12-month rehabilitation program, receive random drug testing, attend 12-step meetings, and undergo assessments for chemical dependency. Failure to comply with the rigorous requirements can result in jail time and a violation of probation.
Besides the required rehab treatment and drug testing, clients may also participate in programs such as the holistic care offered by the HART Center. Andy Boone, who found himself in Dwyer's courtroom after receiving three DUIs in a year, is one of those clients who opted to try the HART Center.
"At first I was very skeptical of allowing Andy into the [drug court] program," Dwyer said. "It's a huge risk letting someone like that out of jail and back on the street."
After convincing Dwyer that he was committed to drug court, Boone began receiving treatment at the HART Center.
"My problem with drinking started when I was around 18, but every time I was forced to seek help I would find ways to still drink and do whatever I wanted to do. That all changed at the HART Center," Boone said. "Something just clicked when I was there. I don't know how to describe it, but I decided I was going to make this work for me."
After graduating from drug court last July, Boone decided to go back to the HART Center to volunteer as a mentor.
"I realized my story is a lot like other peoples' stories, so once I graduated I wanted to help others," Boone said. "I'm not ashamed of what I went through, and I'm proud of where I'm at now."