Billings News

Sep 22, 2011 8:51 AM by Drew Trafton (KTVQ Billings)

MT drug court graduation shows success of program

BILLINGS- Two years ago, Jordan Harris says he wasn't thinking about sobriety.

"I was in a pretty deep spot," said Harris. There is a way out, but you have to want the help in order to get it."

And help was one thing Harris felt he didn't need.

"It was a rough start for me because I didn't want to, I didn't necessarily agree with the rules," said Harris. "I was kind of still in my old ways, but as things turned around I kind of watched my life get increasingly better, and better, and better."

Harris, who graduated today from the Billings Adult Misdemeanor Drug Court, has now completed 218 days of sobriety.

He thanks his success to his parole officer, and the nearly 10 other counselors with whom he had contact with during the intensive year-and-a-half long program-which includes work done with Erin Unruh, supervisor of the Silver Leaf Center in Billings.

"Life hits you pretty fast, and just because you become sober doesn't mean that life doesn't quit happening," said of the Drug Court program which invites graduates to continue talking with counselors.

The program started in 2005 and was the first adult Drug Court for misdemeanors in the state. There are now seven different courts running similar programs in Montana.

The program focuses on digging deep into the causes of addictions, and Unruh says many times the counselors learn right alongside their clients.

"Every client teaches you something different about yourself and about things you can incorporate into the future to make the future participants have better stays," said Unruh.

But Wednesday was about learning how to celebrate, as Unruh and many other counselors find graduation to be bittersweet.

"By the time they leave they are doing so well, and it's almost like you have this bond or connection with them and then you let them go," said Unruh.

Harris will be one of those graduates which will be hitting the road now that he's graduated from the program-he plans to attend college in Florida starting next month.

But that doesn't mean he's leaving his past behind him completely, especially when it comes to keeping in touch with his counselors.

"I'm definitely going to come back and say, 'hi', because I know they do care-- so I'm going to show them that I care about them, too,"

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