More than three years ago, Catherine Adcock was living in her car, had lost her job and was strung out on opiates and alcohol. And to make matters worse, she had racked up 47 drug-related charges and was facing 5 years on each charge.
A lot has changed since then. Thursday, people in a packed Alaska Supreme Court courtroom applauded the sober, homegrown Alaskan as she received the James Wanamaker Outstanding Graduate Award for completing the Anchorage Wellness Court, a rigorous program designed to treat people with drug and alcohol addictions while keeping them out of a cell.
All but one of Adcock’s charges were dismissed when she completed the felony drug program within the Anchorage Wellness Court. But perhaps more importantly, she says, she got her life back and has made amends with people she wronged. The very woman who turned her into the police sat in the audience Thursday in support of Adcock’s achievements.
“I have stable housing, I have an amazing job” said Adcock, who works as a chiropractic assistant in Anchorage. “I’m involved in the community, I go to church, I love. It’s an amazing life that I have today.”
Adcock was among more than 50 graduates honored at the Anchorage Wellness Court and Anchorage Veterans Court commencement ceremony. Several of the former participants shared snippets of their lives before, and after, the therapeutic court program, which is linked with reduced recidivism rates.
First up was Erin Trainor, a felony DUI court graduate who stressed the importance of taking things one day at a time.
Then there was Rob Voelker, who proudly said he was 632 days sober.
Veteran Clifford Salazar said he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse after getting out of the military. Today, he works with other veterans, showing them that it’s possible to get clean and stay clean.
The therapeutic courts, with their strict schedules, random drug and alcohol testing and many court appearances, are not for everyone. But they were a good fit for Thursday’s graduate speakers, who live in a state known for rampant alcohol abuse. The Anchorage Wellness Court, which takes participants with misdemeanor and felony DUIs, also recently started handling more drug-related cases, staff say.
“Therapeutic courts, gave me a chance, they filled me with hope,” said an emotional Adcock. “They gave me an opportunity and I took it. And I continue to take it.”
In her address to fellow graduates, current participants and the friends and family supporting loved ones in recovery, Adcock said she wouldn’t be where she is today without the help from the Alaska Therapeutic Court Alumni group.
A key person in her positive circle these days is Ron Wilson, a fellow graduate who is heavily involved with the alumni group, which works with participants and graduates alike.
She says people like Wilson keep her on the right track now that she doesn’t have a judge, a probation officer and treatment providers monitoring what she does. The two shared a tender embrace before she spoke to the crowd.
“I’m not going to live in my car again, I’m not going to try to spend my last paycheck on drugs and I’m not going to lie to my family or ruin their lives like I did in the past,” Adcock said.