Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court Celebrates First Graduate

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Alisa Webber, a lawyer with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada, then stood up and said it was indeed a celebration.

“We often hear from graduates of other drug treatment courts that it would be easier to just do your time,” Webber told LNN outside the courthouse, explaining the courage, determination and persistence needed. to carry out a demanding and rigorous program.

“It’s always very inspiring when they get to this point, and it really leaves me, in my role as prosecutor, in no doubt that their rehabilitation has been really tested and proven,” Webber said.

READ MORE: Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court Celebrates Year of Success

The type of support a person receives through the LDTC program varies and will depend on each participant’s situation. Supports can include addictions services, counselling, parenting classes, job training and help finding stable housing.

Participants will also be required to regularly update the court on their progress. Those who do not progress with their treatment could face consequences, which could include mild or strict conditions.

Peddle says this program was exactly what he needed to overcome years of meth addiction, which nearly ruined his life.

“I lost everything,” Peddle says, explaining that he was also hostile and aggressive during his years of addiction. “Drugs have completely ruined my life.”

Peddle’s life changed forever on a certain Sunday evening, as he returned home for dinner on Easter Sunday in April 2020.

Peddle was arrested by police and charged with possession for the purpose of trafficking cocaine and methamphetamine.

READ MORE: Claresholm weekend traffic stop prompts drug charges

As an alternative to incarceration, Peddle was offered the opportunity to participate in the LDTC.

Webber says Peddle was reluctant to participate at first.

“When Jacob first came to court and entered the program [and] pleaded guilty, I don’t think he was necessarily happy to be there, but [he] was motivated in part by the possibility of avoiding jail time,” Webber says with a light laugh, “and probably a little scared of what lay ahead.

“I was terrified,” says Peddle, explaining that he was only 18 when he was arrested. “I didn’t want to go to jail.”

He says he probably would have gone to jail for about two years if not for drug treatment court.

Peddle says he saw the program as an opportunity to improve and that he also admitted that it was a better alternative than going to jail and sitting on your own thoughts.

He says he also felt a small spark of hope within himself. He knew he was better than his addiction and that he could achieve and achieve so much more success in life than he ever could as an addict.

He recalls thinking, “If I want to be better and be the man I’m meant to be, that’s how I’m going to have to do it.”

If Peddle was unable to complete the drug treatment court program, he would be sentenced to custody under normal procedures.

Although Peddle chose to plead guilty and join the program, it was not an easy road, but a path filled with thorns.

“I had to leave my hometown, which I’ve never done before,” says Peddle, explaining that he had to leave his family and friends behind and start over in Lethbridge where he didn’t know anyone.

The recovery process, according to Peddle, was also extremely difficult, especially in the beginning. He says even the easiest days were much harder than any addiction day.

“You need to be 100% committed at all times and not lose motivation,” says Peddle. “Even in your toughest times and in your toughest times, you have to keep going, and if you don’t, you’re not going to be successful.”

Peddle admits recovery was easier when he wasn’t allowed to go home, because if he had, it would have been harder to walk away.

“My biggest challenge was to respect that [LDTC] condition and not an infraction, and I’m just going back to my hometown,” says Peddle. “I know how much my children need a father. I know how much my wife needs a husband and I know how much my family needs me as a son and a brother.

He also says the road to recovery does not mean that one has to fight alone.

“You can’t do this alone, and it’s really, really hard in life to do anything alone or achieve any of your goals on your own,” Peddle says. “Even though you know to some degree that you’re doing a good job, for you to actually believe it, in some cases it has to come from other people.”

However, he also believes that validation should come from external sources as well as yourself.

“It’s very important to have that connection, and not just to seek reassurance and validation from others, but to give it freely,” adds Peddle. “As an addict, man or woman or whatever – just like people, we all need reassurance, reassurance and validation in life.”

Peddle used his own tips to help others during the program.

Peddle met Armande Good Rider during his recovery, who became one of his best friends, and came to support him during his graduation. Good Rider was also the first participant in the Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court.

Good Rider was arrested on May 11, 2020 on multiple drug charges.

READ MORE: Two charged over bust at South Lethbridge Hotel.

Similar to Peddle, Good Rider also had to block anyone it knew that was associated with drug addiction, drug dealing, or other crimes. Good Rider says it affected a lot of his relationships. Prior to his arrest, Good Rider said he was a violent person who also suffered from depression and had attempted suicide on several occasions.

Good Rider, like Peddle, entered the LDTC program as an opportunity for a change, but he was skeptical at first.

“I thought it was a trap,” says Good Rider. “They said, ‘plead guilty in court,’ right? And I was like, ‘I’m the first attendee.’

“I was like, ‘I don’t believe this. They’re probably going to plead guilty and then put me in handcuffs and send me back,’ he said. “Then I met him [Peddle] so what [he] made things a little easier with the program.

“We talked about the program together,” Good Rider laughs, “because obviously we were still in the early stages of recovery.”

Good Rider says he and Peddle grew up together and taught and supported each other. If either of them needed improvement in a certain area, they offered each other suggestions.

“He’s like a brother to me,” says Good Rider. “He will see that I am going through a difficult period and he will be there to talk to me. Me and him were together. We helped each other through the program, through its ups and downs, and my ups and downs.

“It shocks me that such a young man can teach me so much,” says Good Rider, admitting he admires Peddle for showing residents of Lethbridge and Claresholm that not all people struggling with drug addiction are from bad people.

“We actually have a heart,” says Good Rider. “We just need this guidance to be held accountable, to be shown a different path in life, and to find our own path.”

Good Rider also finds it very difficult to break the cycle of addiction. “[It’s] sad to say that a lot of people don’t. I lost 11 people last year – close to my family.

“The fact that Jacob pulled through and showed his family,” says Good Rider, “it’s very hard to break that cycle.”

“Outsiders may see this as a small thing [and say] “Oh, he’s going back,” said Good Rider. “He’s the youngest and [yet] he is the head of this program. He showed us everything we could do, and people outside don’t believe it. [But] everyone in this program [will] constantly show the city that we are capable of change.

According to Peddle and Good Rider, Lethbridge Drug Treatment Court has been a positive experience in their respective journeys.

Peddle says the program’s support system is “honestly amazing”. He says the program has different areas of support, from legal and addictions support, to just needing a friend to go for coffee with.

On the other hand, while Good Rider encourages new participants to give the program a chance, it warns that drug treatment courts are only helpful if participants are truly willing to change.

“If you’re not ready for change and it’s your only chance to change it, and you waste it,” he says, “you’re not going to take that chance anymore. Your last chance is just the prison. So join the program when you are ready.

Good Rider expects to graduate soon. He is excited to start a new life with his family after graduation.

“My take on courthouses was like, ‘F this place.’ And now, honestly, I love this place. I’m going to miss this place when I graduate,” Good Rider said. “I’m kinda becoming like a bittersweet thing where I’m going to miss it, but at the same time , I’m glad I finished it, you know, because it was extremely difficult. One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in my life. »

Meanwhile, Peddle, who is the first graduate of Lethbridge’s drug treatment court, can finally go home after 18 months. “I will move and be with my wife and children. And then I’m going to go to work tomorrow and continue on the same path I’m on now.

“I never thought I would become the man I am today, the father I am today, or the husband I am today without this program,” Peddle said.

The LDTC was launched in November 2020 to help those going through the legal system and suffering from drug addiction.

READ MORE: Lethbridge gets drug treatment court and four more ALERT officers

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