An ongoing struggle
by Bailey Richards
HAZARD — Six months can sometimes make a difference. That was how long Scott Thompson spent away from his family while recovering in a drug treatment facility in Pike County. He returned to his home on Lost Creek just last month.
And for him, that time has made a difference.
“I haven’t felt this good mentally, physically,” he noted during a recent interview. “I feel great. My thoughts are clear. I can tell a difference. I am making the right decisions.”
Scott has been the subject of an ongoing series dating back to Christmas as he navigates his way through the Perry County Drug Court. He spent around three months in the Hazard jail following a DUI arrest in December 2011. From jail he was sent to WestCare in Pike County for six months.
Following his setbacks last year, however, Scott is now nearly 10 months sober, the longest time sober that he has known since he was a teenager. But while he said he is feeling great, he also knows he still has a long road ahead of him since he is having to start completely over in drug court after already being in the program for several years.
Scott had gone to WestCare before and had seen a good amount of success from the center’s very structured disciplinary tactics. WestCare focuses on making people accountable for their actions along with counseling and 12 steps.
In the past, this program has been one that the Perry County Drug Court system uses because of the levels of success participants have coming out of treatment. Scott is one of those former successes from his last stay there. He was able to stay sober for several months after leaving WestCare before he ran into an old acquaintance and was pulled back into using drugs.
But this time is different, he said, and he is serious about his sobriety.
“I have a desire to do drug court the right way,” he said. “I have moments where I have done really good here, really excellent, I have also done really badly, too.”
While he knows his path will be difficult, he added that he is not ashamed and is looking at this as an opportunity and not a punishment.
“I am not embarrassed by it or anything,” he continued. “I guess it is kind of a lesson in humility. Maybe I need it. A lot of people don’t look at the positives. They focus on the negatives, but drug court has probably saved my life.
“Honestly my addiction has progressed to the point that it is life or death,” he added. “Every time, if I were to pick up and use, it is life or death.”
Scott added that he is thankful for his time in drug court, and especially his most recent time at WestCare, where he also had the chance to help out with other residents. He said it is this and his personal experiences that have him looking into becoming a counselor to help people like him.
“They kept me busy down there,” he said. “Really I was doing what the staff was doing.”
He is also using his time to work on his relationships with his family, starting with being able to help support them both emotionally and monetarily. He got a job working at a restaurant in Hazard, and is looking at going back to school.
“God has blessed me with a wonderful family,” he said, adding that his father has been fighting illness, and during the time he has been in treatment he has not been able to help raise his daughters. “I want to make some amends with [dad] and my mom. My children, they are young. They came and saw me along with my girlfriend. I got a lot of what they call living amends to make with my family. Mainly, just staying sober and being there for them like they have supported me through all of this.”
While he is happy to be able to help out with his family again, he also said his life has taken him on a path he did not expect. He was in school to enter the health care field at the time his addiction really took hold. The next 10 years pulled him further from his original goals than he ever expected, but he has been able to remain positive and take each situation as a chance to learn humility.
“I never thought I would be 30 years old and washing dishes, I will tell you that,” said Thompson. “Nobody in this world would have ever thought that. But everything happens for a reason, and I am OK with that. It is probably good for me.”
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