HAZARD — After a long battle with addiction, Katrina Robinson Miller was on her way to living a clean and sober life and completing the Perry County Drug Court when she was struck by tragedy.
“I should have finished the program this time last year, but I lost my baby sister and I relapsed,” Miller said during the drug court’s most recent graduation on Tuesday.
“I would love to be able to tell her, ‘I made it Tracy,’ but I know she is here with me,” added Miller, who was one of six graduates recognized on Tuesday for overcoming their addiction and completing the drug court program.
Perry County Drug Court clients have always had to endure difficult therapy sessions, treatment, drug testing and obstacles in achieving sobriety, but this group of clients also had the added strain of a change in their drug court supervisor, who was recently indicted just weeks before graduation. Many of the clients that graduated thanked Karen Holland, who stepped up to help take on this role.
Holland is herself a graduate of the program and has been working with it since her graduation. Circuit Judge Bill Engle thanked her for her hard work and joked that when he sent her to prison seven years ago she hated him, then she came to like him as she graduated drug court, and then began working with him and hated him again.
The Perry County Drug Court has graduated people that have become success stories and some that have faltered. The commencement speaker, Dr. Burns Brady, said that this success and failure is based largely on whether they are willing to accept the disease and the treatment as being a lifelong affliction.
“Get a sponsor, get a support system, recognize you are never going to get cured, and that the responsibility is yours and it is for the people you love,” said Dr. Brady.
Dr. Brady became addicted to the hospital form of methamphetamine when he was in medical school. He remained addicted throughout medical school, which led to him being kicked out, re-enrolling, graduating and nearly being kicked out of the military because of his addiction.
Once he was able to get off meth, Dr. Brady became an alcoholic. After a total of 20 years on drugs and alcohol, he was finally able to get sober. He said that he realized it was an inherited trait when his children and his father all dealt with the same issues.
Brady said that he feared for his grandchildren, but understood that if they did deal with addiction, it is a disease and he would help them through it.
“When my granddaughter was born, I went out to Omaha to see her,” he said. “Whereas most parents and grandparents would say, ‘I have to save up money for The University of Kentucky, Louisville or Samford, or Hazard or Yale,’ I said, ‘I am going to save up to pay for Betty Ford, or Hazleton.’”
He said that luckily his grandchildren have made it and that he has been able to be clean for 34 years. He recently retired from the Healing Place, a homeless shelter and treatment center in Louisville where he used his firsthand knowledge to help others.
“I am so happy for you tonight,” he told Perry County’s newest graduates. “Your families, you deserve this.”
Randy Campbell, one of the graduates, said that he came into the program being skeptical about his results, but through the dedication of the staff and councilors he finally came around to the idea and began to see his life improve.
“About 19 months ago I came into this program like most people to get out of jail,” said Campbell. “When I got serious about doing the right things, good things started happening.”
He gave encouragement to all of those still in drug court that they too can achieve sobriety.
“To all the drug court clients,” he said, “I know you can do it.”