Drug court judges and attorneys from across the commonwealth are gathering in Louisville this week to discuss best practices and applying new research into brain science to better serve the state’s 115 drug courts, which offer an alternative to incarceration for drug offenders.
When he was 10 years old, West Huddleston’s father began to physically abuse him so severely that, later in life, he required two back surgeries. The trauma drove him to drug abuse, and that in turn contributed to the break-up of two marriages.
Now CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Huddleston told a packed conference room in downtown Louisville’s Galt House Hotel that when he got sober in the 80s, he didn’t get treatment for his PTSD because it wasn’t widely known at the time.
He told drug court officials and staff to take advantage of new research to address the underlying roots of addiction.
“I promise you, your clients will have a much easier way toward a recovery if you help them and you guide them to deal with the scariest thing that they could ever face, which is some of the horrific things that were done to them,” Huddleston said.
Kentucky Supreme Court Justice John Minton says that drug courts are a boon to those in recovery as well as local government coffers.
“The drug court saves lives and it saves money for the taxpayers of Kentucky,” Minton said. “And, of course, each community has limited resources in terms of treatment, dollars that are able to be spent on these things, so it varies from place to place, so we try to provide as much uniformity as we can.”
The Administrative Office of the Courts says that for every dollar spent on drug court graduates, the state saves just under three dollars it would otherwise spend on incarceration.