Albertan Says ‘Drug Treatment Court’ Took Him Out of Addiction and Crime Life


At 33, Calgary resident Dave Dyck had built a successful business.

Dyck and his wife were semi-retired and traveled the world with two children, a boy and a girl.

“We were kind of this ordinary, perfect couple, in an upscale neighborhood, and we were doing fine,” Dyck said. “And it was almost by accident that I found myself at a dinner party.”

Dyck has never drunk or used drugs. But during this dinner, in the presence of a number of executives, he ended up stumbling upon cocaine.

“It wasn’t out of place for a party like this, but somehow it looked like, ‘OK, well, here it is,'” he said. . “And I was particularly susceptible to drug addiction, and quite quickly.”

“So for over 10 years it has been difficult to operate as part of running a business.”

Alcohol and drug addiction constantly destroyed everything Dyck was about to build as he found himself in and out of rehab and drug rehab centers.

WATCH | Calgary resident David Dyck talks about his journey in drug treatment court:

David Dyck opens up about his drug treatment court journey

Calgary resident David Dyck has seen his life turned upside down by drug addiction. He tells how the drug treatment court helped him get out of a life of crime. 3:00

In 2015, Dyck experienced a major business failure and reached a point where he said he had given up. He “threw caution to the wind” and his addiction took over.

“You are also entering a life where there are financial constraints that require you to do something to ease the various addictions that you are a part of,” he said. “I started dating people with a bad reputation and engaged in activities with a bad reputation.”

Dyck found himself living in a house with others where drugs were used and crimes were committed to fuel that way of life.

The crimes that were being committed changed daily, from fraud to auto theft.

“It wasn’t like this smart, accomplice criminal, planning a specific heist or scam like these films show,” Dyck said. “It was a lot more hit and miss and on a whim, and ill-prepared. So obviously there is evidence left in each case.”

He found himself in and out of remand centers and jail. He lost all contact with his children for about five years.

That’s when the drug treatment court came into play.

Drug treatment court

The stated goal of drug treatment courts is to provide an alternative to prison for non-violent offenders.

Applicants to the program must plead guilty, undergo drug testing, and participate in court-supervised treatment throughout the process.

Courts have also been operating in Edmonton since 2005 and Calgary since 2007. In Calgary, a report released by the court said 76 percent of graduates had no substantial new convictions at an average of 3.8 years after graduation.

In addition, the report says the court is saving the company between $ 15 million and $ 20 million a year on the cost of stolen goods alone.

In March 2020, the province said they set aside $ 20 million over four years to fund five additional courts across Alberta, including Lethbridge.

“The drug court recognizes that the goal is to really rehabilitate someone,” Dyck said. “And it starts with recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.”

LISTEN | The Sunday Magazine of 2018: The courthouse that helps drug addicts get sober

sunday edition33:36The courthouse that helps drug addicts get sober

Dyck graduated from drug treatment court almost a year ago and has been leading a good life ever since. Now 51, he has reconnected with his children, a relationship he now describes as very close.

He’s even writing a science fiction novel and said he’s already completed 150,000 words.

He said the basic thing about the drug court is that it has the potential to make people clean and sober, and take them away from a life of crime.

“The drug court recognizes the direct correlation between drug use and crime,” Dyck said. “The first and foremost goal of a person in the program is to become clean and sober.

“And that’s basically going to prepare someone to have a life. Because, otherwise, there is no life to be had.”

Part of the puzzle in Lethbridge

In Lethbridge, the Community Crime Severity Index was the highest in the country in 2020, according to Statistics Canada, and before its closure, the city’s supervised consumption site was the busiest in the country.

Brett Carlson is staff lawyer in Lethbridge with Legal Aid Alberta, an organization that provides staff lawyers on duty to represent people who come before drug court.

Carlson said the drug treatment court seeks to break the addiction cycle – one of drug addicts needing money to fuel an addiction, which can lead to crime.

“If this is the cycle that leads to this person’s crime, if we can break that addiction, then we break the crime,” he said.

“And I’m saying we’re breaking the addiction, but that’s really the person breaking the addiction. We’re just here to support that and make it happen.”

Brett Carlson is a staff lawyer at Legal Aid Alberta in Lethbridge. Legal Aid Alberta provides permanent duty counsel to those who go through the drug treatment process in court, and represents them in the court system. (Joel Dryden / CBC)

The Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court was established in November 2020 and admitted its first participants in February 2021. As the program has an average duration of 18 months, no participant has yet graduated.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the province said the tribunal had performed well in Lethbridge in its first year.

“By focusing on the root causes of substance abuse crime, the Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court will have a direct impact on drug addiction levels and the crime associated with drug use in Lethbridge and surrounding communities. “Katherine Thompson said in an email.

Carlson said participants received job offers at the end of the program.

Another person in their 20s was considering a 33-month jail sentence and is now focused on getting a job, volunteering and being the voice of the drug treatment court, Carlson said.

“It improves the community by dealing with drug addiction, which deals with crime,” he said.

According to the federal government, the first drug treatment court opened in Toronto in December 1998, in response to a large number of drug offenses repeatedly committed by drug addicts.

Ottawa provides federal funding to provinces that establish drug treatment courts, allocating $ 3.6 million per year to support the programs.

CBC Calgary has launched a Lethbridge office to help tell your Southern Alberta stories with reporter Joel Dryden. Ideas for articles and advice can be sent to [email protected].


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