Idaho Falls
83° F
Clear
Clear

Program gives addicts hope for recovery

By Jen Austin
Published On: Dec 24 2013 12:27:18 PM CST

The Wood Pilot Program helps convicted offenders who have a mental health disorder as well as a drug or alcohol addiction.

BONNEVILLE COUNTY, Idaho -

Adam Butler is being given one more chance to save his own life.

The 28-year-old admitted methamphetamine addict has dozens of arrests for drug-related crimes including burglary, possession and driving under the influence, as well as many others. He has seen the inside of a jail cell countless times and spent years faking his way through treatment programs and probation, doing the bare minimum to get by.

It was an impending prison sentence that finally got Butler's attention.

"I was scared of prison," Butler said. "(When) the cops did a welfare check … I told on myself. They handcuffed me. I told them where (the meth) was. I needed help."

The addiction

Butler's addiction began at the age of 16 when he began smoking pot to fit in with his friends. Although Butler said he had a "decent childhood," he also said his earliest childhood memories were of a female family member being physically, mentally and verbally abused.

"I was really young when it happened," Butler said. "I didn't think I picked up on it, but I guess when you're that young, it kind of sinks in."

As a teenager, Butler's first run-in with the law was when friends asked him to go with him to break into someone's home. They wanted to steal anything they could pawn to buy drugs. A neighbor called police and Butler was charged with accessory to burglary.

"All I did was pay my $35 fine for a one-time (offense) and say I'd keep my nose clean for six months," Butler said.

Butler said he continued to get underage consumption tickets and partied through most of high school. At the age of 19, he tried meth twice.

"Once you try it, you're mostly addicted to it," he said.

Butler said his life spiraled out of control once he started meth.

"I was stealing from my family, lying to my family, not paying my bills, being an unproductive person (and) losing jobs left and right," he said.

Getting help

For nearly 10 years, Butler let the addiction control him until he stood in front of a judge and was told he was going to prison for at least two years. That was when the Wood Pilot Program gave him one last chance.

The Wood Pilot Program, named after Idaho State Representative JoAn Wood, was started to help convicted offenders who have a mental health disorder as well as a drug or alcohol addiction. The program is a strictly structured four-phase program that takes approximately 18 months to complete.

Program Coordinator Rex Thornley said the purpose of the program is to rehabilitate offenders while allowing them to contribute to society.

"These are guys that would go to prison, not pay child support while they're gone," Thornley said. "(In the program), they're paying child support, not collecting food stamps, not draining the system."

Thornley said it costs $40 to $50 a day to incarcerate the offenders, but only $25 a day to rehabilitate them. Of those who go into the program, more than half graduate – a higher rate than other drug court programs across the nation. He said 60 to 70 percent of graduates never re-offend after graduating.

Butler has been in the program for just a few months and said it is a difficult program. Those who fail go to prison, but following the rules is not easy. Butler continuously goes through tests to ensure he is drug and alcohol free. Pain killers are not allowed even with a doctor's permission. Relationships are strictly monitored and most single members of the program are not allowed to date. Those in the program are given a short time frame to get a job or they get kicked out.

Butler said although it's difficult, he knows it's worth it.

"I'm ready to change my ways," he said. "I've wasted a lot of years just drinking and doing drugs. If I do finish the program, it's going to be the biggest self accomplishment."

Not alone

Libertie and Doug Potts know exactly what Butler is going through.

The couple met in 1998 while going through AA. They had both gotten sober and then got married before having three children together. After 10 years, they both relapsed.

"I was a true-blue alcoholic," Doug Potts said. "I drank until I blacked out. I woke up and I'm drinking. Go to sleep and I'm drinking. I was just not functional."

Libertie Potts said even when she was sober, she still hadn't changed her ways. She was still lying, gossiping and occasionally shoplifting. She said she would go to bars "just to do karaoke." She said going to bars and keeping her old ways and old friends contributed to her relapse.

"It doesn't work out for people who are addicts and drug addicts," she said. "We don't belong in bars."

For the Potts, the final straw came when they were arrested for possession with their children in the car.

"My daughters were all crying. They were terrified," Libertie Potts said. "Doug told me he was going to leave me if I did it again, but I couldn’t stop, and I had drugs in the car. The cops pulled us over and Doug got out and told the cops it was his even though they weren't."

Facing multiple felony charges and the prospect of losing their kids, the Potts applied for the Wood Pilot Program.

Today, the Potts are clean and avoid any past behaviors and friends that helped them get in trouble in the first place. Now they work part time with Wood Pilot helping other addicts.

"Wood Pilot is a team," Libertie Potts said. "They have probation. They have have treatment. They have Rex (a mental health counselor), they have mentors; everyone's a team and we all work together to help people. It's different than regular probation."

She said the program is the reason she now listens to her child and gets to be there for them.

"I support them in their drams and help them with their homework. Before it was, 'I'm busy, I'm busy' and not taking time to listen," she said. "I'm grateful. I belong in prison. I get to be with my kids and tuck them in at night."

Butler said the program taught him the tools he needed to cope without drugs. He also hopes to someday be there for his fiance’s children – once the program coordinators approve it. For now, he's just proud of what he has already accomplished.

"This is the longest I've been sober," he said. "I want to finish (the program) for myself. I want to know I can do it."

Advertisement