Local News

State Corrections Offers Drug Recovery Program

Posted December 2, 1997 12:00 a.m. EST

— The diploma a group of men received Tuesday was very difficult to get. It took them only 90 days to reach their goal, but what they had to do was to make an effort at overcoming drug and alcohol abuse. The state says the program has worked in other places. Hopefully, it will work in North Carolina too.

Nearly half of all North Carolina prisoners released from jail eventually end up back behind bars. Experts blame addiction as a major reason for the relapse rate. But, a new program could help turn that trend around.

Larry Fullove has a lot on his mind. Four months go, he nearly died from 13 years of abusing crack cocaine. But Tuesday he graduated from a new corrections department program that he says has freed him from the bondage of substance abuse.

"I want drugs and alcohol out of my life," Fullove explains. "I used and abused drugs and alcohol for 20 years, but I can sit here and say now that these three months have been the most productive three months of my life."

Fullove says structure is the key to his recovery. Each participant in the program gets up at 5:30 every morning for a 13-hour workday that includes classes on education, job skills and getting along with other people. Organizers say the inmates are learning more while costing taxpayers about half the cost of continued confinement

"This program is demonstrating a per-day cost of between $28-$30 dollars a day, compared to $50-55 dollars a day in a facility," says program coordinator Mike Rothwell.

Fullove understands the scepticism some North Carolinians might have about money spent on the program. After all, he says, he's gone through three other programs that didn't work. But, he says he believes this well-rounded effort will work, and he's ready to prove it to the people he's hurt.

"To me, it's not about talking," says Fullove. "It's about living it, and I intend to do that one day at a time. Eventually, they'll see the change, and I'm looking forward to it."

Tuesday's graduation ceremony marked a milestone, not an end. Participants still have another 90-day program to complete on at out-patient basis.

The aim of the program is to end addiction through positive reinforcement, inspiration, and behavior modification. Offenders are also required to take courses which will further their educations.

andKerrie Hudzinski