Brooke’s first arrest became his second chance.
“In the STOP program, relapse prevention means crime prevention,” says Rick Berman, InAct program director.
Brooke Howes had never been in trouble with the law before when he was arrested for drug possession just after the holidays last year.
Still, Brooke was no stranger to addiction and recovery. He realized he was an alcoholic at age 18 and has spent time in multiple inpatient treatment facilities costing thousands of dollars. “I’ve been in recovery for all of my adult life,” Brooke says.
But recovery can also include relapse, and Brooke was arrested during one such relapse. This time, however, Brooke was given a choice: he could go to jail or enroll in the Multnomah County STOP Court. If he successfully completed the intensive, yearlong addiction treatment program at Volunteers of America Oregon’s InAct and made regular court appearances, his record would be wiped clean.
It was both an incentive and a wakeup call.
At first, the yearlong time commitment seemed daunting. STOP Court participants attend treatment groups and individual counseling sessions at InAct nearly every day and make court appearances based on how well they do in treatment. Initially, Brooke’s goal was just to complete the program. But then he realized how much it could help him.
“The quality of care is unparalleled,” Brooke says. “InAct was there for me every day, checking in with me. The counselors are in tune with what you need.” His counselor was a regular presence in his life, providing one-on-one support and helping him process his experience in treatment.
Brooke’s time at InAct also served as a reminder that using drugs and alcohol was his coping method, and that his alcoholism isn’t something he can ignore. “I need to remind myself on a daily basis that I’m an alcoholic,” he says.
Besides addictions counseling, InAct provides assistance with everyday needs from housing to job placement, naturopathic health care and mental health medication management. The goal is to provide comprehensive services that address all aspects of participants’ needs, so that they can begin to build self-determined lives free from drug or alcohol abuse.
Addiction is a lifelong challenge, but InAct helped 529 STOP Court participants gain the tools to prevent relapse last year. “In the STOP program, relapse prevention means crime prevention,” says Rick Berman, InAct’s Program Director. “STOP Court participants are much more likely to be individuals who are addicted to alcohol and drugs and only commit crimes to support their drug habit, rather than individuals who habitually commit crimes and also have a drug addiction. When not drinking or using drugs, most STOP participants lead crime-free lives.”
Brooke is evidence of that. Today, he owns a successful food cart business in downtown Portland. He is financially stable, accountable for his actions, and has maintained a successful long-term relationship. In fact, he and his partner just welcomed a baby daughter in October. He also has built a support system of individuals who also support his recovery, a key to maintaining his sobriety over time.
“If there wasn’t some kind of intervention, I know I wouldn’t have any of those things,” says Brooke. “I think I’ll have a nice long stretch of happy times ahead of me.”
Find out more about InAct and the STOP Court program or make a donation to support this important work.
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