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Minnesota drug courts aim to help addicts recover and succeed

When an individual seeks medical care for painful symptoms, a doctor seeks to not only treat the adverse symptoms, but also determine and treat any underlying health conditions that may be ultimately contributing to such symptoms. This approach makes sense and failure to address a health problem in this manner would likely result in a lawsuit. However, society often takes a very different approach when it comes to the adverse side effects that may result when an individual suffers from an alcohol or drug addiction.

Too often individuals who struggle with addiction are regarded as criminals who must be punished, rather than people who are sick and need help. Juveniles and adults facing criminal charges related to drug possession or distribution are often sentenced to serve time in detention centers or prisons where many are able to access drugs and continue to feed their addiction.

Minnesota is among those states where individuals facing drug charges are afforded an alternative to being locked up behind bars. Established in 1996, Minnesota's first drug court program has grown to include 37 such courts throughout the state that aim to help treat and support juveniles and adults who are struggling with addiction. For many who end up in drug court, the program provides a last chance to break free from the grip of addiction.

A recent success story from one Minnesota drug court includes a man who was arrested in 2012 and faced felony drug charges and a 10 year prison sentence. Having lost his family, job and sense of self-respect the man admits that, at that time, his only concerns revolved around getting his next fix. Recently that same man received praise from a judge when he successfully completed a 18 month drug court program.

While some may regard drug courts as an easy alternative to jail or prison, such assumptions are far from accurate. For individuals suffering severe addictions the thought of becoming sober and facing their problems head on is more terrifying than being behind bars.

Everyone deserves a chance at a better life. For juveniles and adults facing drug charges, a criminal defense attorney can help defend an individual's rights as well as provide the opportunity for a better future.

Source: MinnPost. com, "Drug Courts in Minnesota: Smart on crime, not ‘soft on crime’," Sarah T. Williams, March 5, 2014

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