NADCP Training Conference Offers Education and Inspiration
Last week over 3,000 court administrators, judges, lawyers, addiction treatment professionals, and industry experts gathered in Washington, D.C., for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals‘ 19th Annual Training Conference. Attendees came from all 50 states and places as far away as New Zealand, the U.K., and South America.
The conference gave drug court professionals the opportunity to grow their skills, learn best practices, and hear about the latest research in order to better help individuals who are working to get their lives back on track. The conference’s 175 sessions and workshops covered a wide range of topics such as the value of special drug courts for juveniles; the use of incentives and sanctions; the role of trauma in addiction; using mentors in veterans’ courts; information on new and designer drugs; alcohol monitoring technology; confidentiality laws; and much more.
Graduates Take the Stage
Attendees took home more than just information. During the opening session, several drug court graduates and their families took the stage to share what their lives were like before and where they are today. Each graduate spoke of a life wrecked by addiction: lost jobs, homelessness, abandoned children, heartbroken parents, thoughts of suicide, and imprisonment. But through drug court they rebuilt their lives and their families. Several of the graduates are now drug court professionals themselves, helping others as they were helped. One young woman, who started using drugs and alcohol before she was even a teenager, just graduated from college and is on her way to law school. Another young man became an addiction and recovery counselor. After each graduate shared their story, their families had an opportunity to speak about the despair of watching their loved one struggle with drugs and alcohol, and what a difference drug court made. One young man said it very simply: “Thank you for giving me my mom back.”
The graduates were introduced by actor Matthew Perry, who has also struggled with addiction. Perry has been a high-profile supporter of drug courts and during the conference participated in NADCP’s efforts to lobby Congress for additional drug court funding. Actress Kristen Johnston and musician Daniel Powter also shared their stories.
“Day to day, it’s not always easy to see progress,” said one attendee. “But hearing from people who have successfully completed their time in drug court, who are now out there making a difference in their communities, who now have families and futures . . . that’s why we do what we do.”