Augusta drug court celebrates graduates

The hard road to overcoming addiction could be heard in a common refrain at drug court graduation Thursday morning: “If I can do it, anyone can do it.”

It was said by graduate Will­iam Hargrove, who joined the intense probation period three years ago, but still missed the birth of his son because a failed drug test put him back in jail.

It was said by Bob Blair, who turned sober after doing drugs “longer than most of you have been alive,” and Reynolds Starnes, who stayed clean so that his daughter “never has to worry about me being on the streets.”

“This program is not a destination, but a way to grow and develop,” Superior Court Judge James Blanchard, the chief judge over the program, told the graduates and a crowd of elected officials and family members
at Beulah Grove Baptist Church.

Drug court is a program of at least two years that keeps participants accountable through drug tests, curfews and frequent peer counseling. After successfully completing the program, the district attorney’s office drops pending charges against the participant.

Superior Court Judge Sheryl Jolly said that as participants clean up their lives, it often leads to reunions between families torn apart by a drug user’s habit.

“That’s something that is priceless,” Jolly said.

Ricky Johnson said his son, graduate Bobby Johnson, wanted several times to get out of the program and just do his time. There were several moments that his son would relapse and disappear for a week, and it was discouraging, Johnson said. But through encouragement from family and personal conviction, Bobby Johnson received his diploma Thursday.

“The biggest thing is they stuck with it and we stuck with them,” Ricky Johnson said. “They didn’t give up because we didn’t give up on them.”

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