The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


July 8, 2014

Drug courts

The Marion County Adult Drug Court has only been operating for a few months, but you can count Circuit Court Judge Michael Aloi as a believer.

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals reports that since 2011, more than 70 babies have been born drug-free to women participating in drug courts. Of those born drug-free, 10 babies were born to participants in juvenile drug courts.

Aloi says that in the few months the court has been operating in Marion County, he has seen it help several men become drug-free fathers.

“One day I saw a participant enjoying a nice day with their family at the park,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

We need more days like that in West Virginia.

And he says it’s also working for mothers, helping keep their newborns from being born addicts.

Having to create a program to prevent newborns from being born addicted to drugs due to their mothers abusing drugs is an example of how deeply the tentacles of drug abuse have spread in our communities.

It serves as a reminder to us all that the world of drugs is not separate from us in some dark and parallel place, but is right here in our community.

Drug users and dealers are not people who are apart from the rest of us, and we need to do what we can to help them.

We think drug courts are serving not just people trying to break the addiction cycle, but they serve as a reminder to all of us how deeply this scourge has spread into all of our lives.

And it is doing something positive to counter that.

Travis Zimmerman, also with the Marion County Adult Drug Court, makes an observation that shows how difficult the problem is for us in West Virginia when he says using illegal drugs is all in the family, passed down from parent to child.

“It’s a family cycle of substance abuse that goes from one generation to the next, and so on,” Zimmerman said.

Educating those who abuse drugs and breaking that family cycle is critical. Zimmerman says that until the pattern of individuals having children with drugs in their system, or later becoming addicted themselves, is broken, the problem will remain in our families.

That means the problem will continue in our communities.

We think drug courts are an effective way to break that cycle of drug abuse — in one person, in one family, and in one city at a time.

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