A friend and fellow WMNF volunteer, Dr. Kathy Moore, is a Research Assistant Professor at USF. Her focus for the last few years has been mental health and substance abuse, and she's been leading a couple different studies on Hillsborough and Pinellas County Drug Courts. I've been working with her as a research assistant for the last eight months. On Monday Kathy and I will lead a panel discussion on Pinellas Countys' program for female offenders.
Panelists will include Pinellas County Drug Court Judge Dee Anna Farnell, WestCare therapist Heidi Jacobson, and a drug court client.
I feel fortunate having never been addicted to anything in my life (well, there were cigarettes in college); I never thought I'd be able to understand a person with such a problem. However, through various methods of data collection, numerous client interviews - and watching them succeed or fail (or both), I have a much better grasp on the struggle of the individual as well as an understanding of how the system and society comes into play.
While Kathy and her team of researchers (me included) are still evaluating the results of years of study to measure the effectiveness of drug courts, to me it's obvious that drug court is a pro-active alternative towards solving a deep-rooted problem, as opposed to locking someone up for decades and hoping a lesson was learned.
In the same vein (was that tasteless?), I'm also producing a story for Monday's evening newscast on the rampant increase in prescription drug abuse and overdoses in Florida. According to the Chief Forensic Toxicologist at Hillsborough County’s Medical Examiners office, about one person a day dies of an overdose in this county alone.