• I wish I would have hugged my Dad who taught me so many lessons about life
• March in Washington helps revive spirits of marchers, sets up challenge for the future
• Drug addicts fight, sometimes lose, but agency keeps offering hope to community
• Drug addicts get
• Southern Scholarship Foundation offers welcome for honors students
• Real story: Time heals old split over FSU game, wish to return, as Spurrier comes home to cheers
• Encounter with a manatee on kayak trip down the Wakulla River
• Gay marriage decision is intriguing as we look at the opinions of Supreme Court justices
• There are just no guarantees in a presidential election
• Governor doesn’t know how to govern, should resign and go back to private business
• A night to remember as UF champion gymnastics team salutes cancer patients with “magic medicine”
• Loss of limb no barrier for people in new support group in town
• Mom refuses to send kids to school program to honor city’s cops - the family suffered enough
• Early Christmas miracle came at cash register as customer struggled to pay for her groceries
• Porsche made me feel like a million dollars
• Aaron Hernandez left a message of eternal life as he willfully took his own life in prison - Aaron Hernandez was a gifted athlete who led a troubled life. But his suicide caught friends and family by surprise, a week after an quital in court on another case. ...
• Frosty the Snowman provided a chilly break from Florida’s warmer winter weather - Visiting up North was an experience that a Floridian could enjoy, but coming home to warmer weather makes one appreciate Florida. ...
• Women prisoners count their blessings on a tearful Thanksgiving at Lowell Prison - Visits on Thanksgiving were all too short at Lowell Prison where children were asking "Why can't I stay with Mommy?" Columnist Jack Strickland visits at Lowell and writes a riveting story about the emotions of the day as families got together all too briefly. He came away with both a feeling of sadness and of joy. ...
• “Souls to the Polls” march re-enacts history to inspire students at FAMU to vote in the election - FAMU students recreated history on Sunday with a march to the polls to demonstrate the importance of voting and to inspire students to vote in the national election. ...
• Florida women’s prison is nightmare as prisoners endure humiliation, poor medical care, rip-offs - Florida's major prison for women is an endless nightmare for those who have to endure the permanent psychological scarring that results from little privacy, no meaningful rehabilitation, general neglect of medical care by the prisons, and the rip-off of high prices for phone calls and items supplied by private contractors. ...
• Question is whether Adelson family was involved in Markel murder, and motives of the suspects - Questions remain unanswered about release of evidence and possible motives for murder - were suspects trying to extort money from Adelsons? ...
• Small explosion causes chaos at Florida A&M University - An explosion at the FAMU campus Thursday was actually a dishwasher catching fire. However it did cause a scare among faculty, staff and students at the Presidential Dining Hall. ...
• In a surprise appearance, Shaq has a ball inspiring neighborhood kids to dream big - A surprise visit by the former star basketball player to Gainesville and the police department brought out good feelings all around as kids got to play with superstar. ...
• ‘Cash register justice’ for the poor means no justice for many in Florida courts - Prosecutors now seek to extract fees from indigent defendents to help pay office costs, causing possible miscarriage of justice, says national justice center. ...
• If Jeb Bush ever really went to prison in Florida, he wouldn’t get a happy reception - The disaster of corruption, privatized prisons, and loss of competent leadership in state prisons is Jeb Bush’s legacy in Florida. ...
• Court fails to convict police officer in NC shooting death of former FAMU football player - Family pleads for calm as jury fails to find officer guilty in shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell in Charlotte; no decision yet on retrial. ...
• Carson wins best dressed while Trump brings up the rear in the clash of haberdashery at GOP debate - Who was dressed to win the recent GOP debate? Who wore the most stunning tie, and the best cut suit? Looks like neurosurgeon Ben Carson knows how to dress. Donald Trump, who sells a line of clothing, ironically finishes last. ...
• FSU could receive NCAA sanctions similar to those of Penn State sex scandal - Recent events will add up to more problems for Florida State University when NCAA and Title IX investigators report their findings. ...
• Gators end Florida State’s baseball hopes in big wins in Gainesville; on to the Series - Getting back into the College World Series was a dream for both teams, but the Gators managed to teach Florida State a lesson or two. ...
• Miracle of heart transplant puts ‘inoperable’ Rachel, 10, back in the arms of her new family - The dramatic story of how 10-year-old Rachel McCary got her new heart and a new chance to live is told by Jack Strickland who watched closely at the hospital in Gainesville while a miracle was performed. ...
CNN National Headlines
» By the numbers: How Trump stacks up after 100 days
» How artists are marking Trump's 100th day in office
» Former DNC chair slams Trump's 'irrational and extreme agenda'
» Trump: Don't worry, we'll build the wall
» Protesters take on Trump's climate policies -- and the heat
» EPA removes climate change information from website
» Del. senator slams Trump's N. Korea tweet: 'No longer reality TV'
» Democrats' Senate math problem
» Trump labels MS-13 public enemy No.1
» US yellow fever vaccine supply will run out this summer, CDC says
NPR National Headlines
» U.S. Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, First Cuban-American Elected to Congress, Retiring Next Year
» How Lives On Both Sides Of Border Towns Have Changed Since Trump Took Office
» Barbershop: Trump's Contentious, Yet Symbiotic Relationship With The Media
» Trump Invites Controversial Philippines Leader To White House
» Trump Stars On Stage He Built Himself, Far From Washington
» President Trump's First 100 Days, In Photos
» The Los Angeles Riots, Race And Journalism
» Reporters Gather For White House Correspondents' Dinner
» Thousands March In D.C. To Protest Trump Climate Policies
» The Call-In: Your Stories About Veterans Affairs
CNN World Headlines
Drug addicts fight, sometimes lose, but agency keeps offering hope to community
By Jack Strickland
Addictions are tough. Alcoholism and drug abuse are at crisis levels in America, today. They exact a tough penalty from both the addicted and the community.
I got a crash course on the problem this week. I was invited to sit in on a group therapy session at The Metamorphosis. It is a leading residential addiction treatment facility. It is called a long term community based residential treatment program for adult chronic substance dependent clients.
“Meta” is offered by Court Services in Alachua County and is similar to many programs in Florida. Most of the clients I met are there by court order. They elected to go to the in-house rehab for six months to a year in lieu of jail time for drug or alcohol infractions. If they “wash out” or fail to complete the program they are immediately arrested and returned to jail.
Some of the clients I met are volunteers who are undergoing treatment on their own initiative. They seemed to want to come to rehab in search of a better life. Family pressures appeared to play a major part in their quest to find sobriety. They are free to abort the program, and leave, at any time without penalty—except for forfeiting the opportunity to ever return to the program.
Most of the clients I met said drugs or alcohol warped their thinking. They said did not realize they were addicted and in the haze they lived in they thought their actions were normal.
The therapy session I attended was a two hour group discussion. It was directed by a professional addiction specialist and counselor. Clients who maintained an error free week-long record at the facility were permitted to invite a guest to participate with them in the session. An hour and a half of a structured program was followed by 30 minutes of free visitation with the evening’s guests.
For me, the visitation was the more educational part of the evening. The clients talked freely about their lives and addictions. The program urges honesty. They did not pull any punches. They spoke openly about the problems they caused their families, loved ones, and the community.
They were very graphic in their discussion of the pain they face due to the strong pull of alcohol and drugs in their lives. Some said they would do anything to get a “fix”. When they are “jonesing” or coming down from a “high” and painfully needing a “fix,” they said they would not hesitate to turn to crime to feed their “habit.”
After they spent their rent money and funds for other living expenses, their first targets for robbery were their friends and family. Next, they turned to burglaries, prostitution, and fraud—anything to get funds to fuel their “habit.”
They said drugs or alcohol controlled their lives and turned them into monsters. Some of them have been disowned by their families with what they say is good cause. They say they are now all alone in the world except for their new family at Metamorphosis. It is clear that the bonds with each other in the program are very strong.
The program is very strict. Clients are regularly screened for drugs and alcohol. There are severe consequences for any violation of the rules. There is a long waiting list of people who are seeking treatment and awaiting an opening for new clients. When a person graduates or is kicked out of the program the empty bed is usually filled within 24 hours. Clearly, there is a need for more similar facilities.
Alcohol or crack cocaine are the drugs of choice for most of the clients. A few are there dealing with addiction to prescription medication. Caffeine and nicotine are among the substances that are prohibited at the “Met.” They are habit forming, and I learned, are viewed as “triggers” causing those addicted to seek drugs or alcohol.
As I was leaving I received an unusual request from a handful of clients: Could I help three of their “brothers” who were expelled from the program that day. They were a few blocks away hovering in a city park. They had no transportation or place to go for the night.
The infraction that got them expelled from the program is amusing.
Two flunked a drug test. They had “dirty urine” on a second drug test.
The first drug test was clean but it detected a prescription antibiotic that was not prescribed to either of those tested. The staff identified the client who did have that prescription. He is the other person kicked out of the program. The staff is familiar with this game. The person prescribed antibiotics was clean of prohibited drugs and had provided his urine for his friends to use in an attempt to beat the drug test.
The three told the truth when confronted by staff. They were rewarded for their honesty. They were not in the program by court order. They were not arrested and sent to jail. They are not permanently banned from the program. They will be given the opportunity to return to the program after 30 days. That appeared to be an unusual concession by the staff.
I was moved by the love the group showed for their three departed friends. A cheer went up when I agreed to go to the city park and perform a rescue.
I found an interesting trio camped out on park benches. They were glad to be rescued.
Two of them are from prominent families I know. They nixed my offer to drive them home. They say they have let their families down and are not likely to get a favorable reception if they show up on the spur of the moment after being booted from the program.
All three say they plan to get their act together and return to the Metamorphosis. They seem to have an all-for-one and one-for-all philosophy. They are looking forward to rejoining their “Met” family in 30 days.
The Metamorphosis appears to be an effective and outstanding program. I came away with the impression that our communities need more program just like it.