Two Women Become First Graduates of Sullivan County Drug Court Program
BLOUNTVILLE, Tenn. — For 20 years, morning, noon and night, Valerie “Roxie” Hopkins’ life revolved around intravenous drug use.
“I never, ever, ever dreamed that I could be happy without drugs,” the 36-year-old Blountville woman said.
During those days, Hopkins sometimes partied with her friend, Samantha Mitchell.
On Wednesday, the two women became the first graduates of the Sullivan County Felony Recovery Court program, which provides rehabilitation services for nonviolent felons who have substance use disorders.
Participants receive a variety of therapies from Frontier Health over a roughly two-year period, beginning with intensive supervision while in residence at the John R. Hay House. After a five-phase, individual process, they graduate.
During a graduation ceremony at the Sullivan County Justice Center, the two women received certificates in front of family, friends and peers who are currently in the drug court program.
“We’re thrilled for our participants that have graduated,” said Deborah France, community justice coordinator for Frontier. “Recovery court is an amazing program. It’s a very stringent program, but we just love seeing the success for them and their families.”
Mitchell joined the program in November 2015. At the time, she said, she was overwhelmed and confused after years as a drug addict.
“[The program] gave me the ability to live my own life to the fullest,” she said.
Hopkins, who joined in March 2016, said she used to do a host of drugs, including Suboxone and methamphetamine.
“I lived and breathed to get high,” she said.
Then she started the program. Frontier provides a number of services, including intensive outpatient therapy, medication-assisted treatment, individual and family therapy, after-care service, parenting classes, anger management classes, pro-social life skills, cognitive behavioral change groups, case management services and job and education training.
“I give thanks to God because I truly believe there’s no program that could do what it has done for me because the desire is gone,” Hopkins said. “I have absolutely, since March of last year, no desire whatsoever to get high.”
She even took over a leadership role as a peer leader, guiding others in the program.
“Anytime I do anything, and usually it was negative things, I go all in,” she said. “And now I went all in with this recovery.”
A major part of her recovery process, Hopkins said, has been her family, including her husband, who is going through his own treatment, and her three children.
“Seeing myself through my family’s eyes — there’s nothing that can beat that,” she said.
Judge James F. Goodwin spoke about Hopkins, Mitchell and the program. Goodwin said he tells those about to enter the program that they need to forget about their friends, families and former lives at first.
“You have got to take this opportunity to focus on you,” he tells them.
Those currently in the program watched from the front row. Goodwin said that the day was special for two reasons: It was a “new beginning” for Hopkins and Mitchell, and, “for everyone else up here, we’re one step further.”