The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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Editorials

June 10, 2014

Stories of hope

One woman, one program show that the devil that is drugs can be beaten

Two stories that appeared in The Register-Herald Sunday and Monday give us hope that the grip drugs have on southern West Virginia can be crushed.

One is a story of personal triumph, the other dogged determination by officials to continue to find a way to beat this devil back at every turn.

In Sunday’s edition, you were introduced to Kegan Cantley, a recovering addict who reached rock bottom, then found the strength to claw her way out of the abyss and make a new life for herself, her children and her new husband.

It took the death from overdoses of two people she loved, jail and, ultimately, having her children taken away that finally gave her the courage and strength to break through the chains binding her to the drugs.

The thought of her children calling someone else mommy was one of the wake-up slaps she needed.

It took time, but she managed to get clean and stay clean. She now has her children back, she is married and she has had a third child.

We pray Kegan will keep claim to this victory. Only she holds the key to the chains, but it seems she has the courage — and the knowledge — to keep the devil from her door.

“I know I’m only one pill away from losing everything I have,” she says.

That is a powerful weapon.

In Monday’s paper, we learned about the Wyoming County adult drug court, which is expected to be operational next month.

It is designed to reduce criminal recidivism (backsliding) and alcohol/substance abuse among “targeted offenders” through a specialized court docket.

Wyoming is one of the first counties in the state to institute such a program required by the West Virginia Drug Offender Accountability and Treatment Act, thanks to Circuit Court Judge Warren McGraw.

At a gathering to outline the program, Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said no one level of government can solve the drug problem. It will take everyone working together — from parents in the homes to teachers in the schools to law enforcement to probation officers to pharmacists to doctors.

“We will never be able to claim victory,” Rahall said of the drug problem which is rampant across the nation. “We need to continue to make progress.”

Those jailed for drug crimes may sit in jail month after month but “come out exactly as they go in,” said one official.

An alternative to prison, drug courts help offenders get a new lease on life, one that is in a better world than the one they left. The court’s 10 key components give them ways to make changes that will stick when they graduate.

Participants will be monitored closely to ensure their compliance.

Wyoming County was one of the first places where it became evident that rampant drug use had reached epidemic proportions in southern West Virginia.

That it is also one of the first to have a promising program to help mitigate the problem is appropriate.

Like Kegan’s continuing sobriety, we pray for its success.

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