During The Times Observer's recent series of articles on the drug abuse problem in Warren County, there was a common theme among those we interviewed concerning treatment: It doesn't come without a total life commitment.
There was also a disturbing statistic: More than anything else, drug and alcohol abuse is the most prevalent contributing factor to criminal convictions in Warren County.
To say that drug abuse and criminal activity are intrinsically linked states the obvious. And yet, there has been a disconnect in the past between prosecution and drug treatment. Sure, most sentences handed down included a demand that a convicted person with a drug abuse problem obtain drug and alcohol counseling, but even that fell short of what was needed in many cases.
This week, there was a story in this newspaper that might be viewed as a turning point in that situation.
The first graduate of treatment court was presented a certificate of completion.
We have stated in the past that we don't condone criminal behavior of any sort and consider drug abuse as an empty excuse. However, we also have said that society hasn't done the necessary follow-up to reduce the rate of relapse by drug addicts resulting in criminal recidivism.
Treatment court was introduced in the county more than a year ago, "a highly structured program that combines drug rehabilitation and supporting services through court supervision."
In essence, treatment court takes the next step necessary to reduce the cost of drug abuse to communities both in human and financial terms.
Judge Maureen Skerda noted during the "graduation" ceremony for Herbert Frederick Schumann Sr. that the process is all about lifestyle change and takes lengthy commitment.
Schumann was the first "out" of the program, though his journey will continue perhaps as long as he lives. We hope he is in the vanguard of a progression of those who have saved their own lives with commitment and hard work through a program that shows great promise.