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Waukesha court offers drug treatment while deferring prosecution

As Wisconsin residents know, drug use sometimes has the power to cause a person's life to spiral out of control. Nationwide treatment programs provide assistance to people struggling with addiction, and now the legal system in Waukesha County has climbed aboard. For people who find themselves in legal situations they never could have imagined being in, a Waukesha County drug treatment court is offering an alternative.

Launched by a local judge, the program is for individuals struggling with addiction who have been charged with nonviolent drug crimes. By following requirements, including random drug testing, participation in treatment and support groups, regular meetings with case managers, and scheduled appearances before judges for monitoring, the program defers prosecution for people who want to work toward a drug-free future.

A 26-year-old man who graduated from Muskego High School was the first of 25 individuals who will take part in the program over the next year. The man started using painkillers for a back injury at the age of 18. Over a period of three years of taking the medication that he needed to control the pain, he became addicted. When the formula for his medication changed, he could no longer crush the pill for snorting and switched to daily heroin use in 2010.

Like many other individuals caught in the cycle of drug addiction, the first participant in the program wants a better life, and a three-year $350,000 federal grant will allow the Waukesha County court to give him that opportunity. There are 24 other treatment courts in Wisconsin, and about 1,700 in the U.S. that will provide treatment, instead of punishment, to individuals caught in similar situations.

Source: Journal Sentinel, "Waukesha launches drug treatment court," Laurel Walker, March 29, 2012

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