PORTSMOUTH — Some heavy raindrops had just started falling outside the Portsmouth Municipal Building at about the same time as tears filled the eyes of one James Fletcher on Wednesday afternoon. Though the young man tried to choke them back, at one point he buried his face in his hands and wept.
Most people can’t identify with someone who has escaped the bonds of addiction, but here was Portsmouth Municipal Court Judge Russell D. Kegley, Levi Morgan, who had been instrumental in helping James recover, family and friends gathered in what was the second graduation in the short history of the Portsmouth Municipal Court Drug Court.
“It has been a journey seeing the change in myself ,” Fletcher said as he addressed those in the gallery. That is when the tears began to fall and it took a moment for him to regain his composure. “I hated the thought of being the youngest user in here, but addicts come in all shapes and sizes. It was hard. It was rough. It was even scary sometimes, but I kept on the path to recovery.”
Kegley reminded those present at the event of the extreme difficulty of graduating from drug court.
“Ladies and gentlemen this is a joyous occasion,” Kegley said. “Folks who have been in this program know that’s not an easy task (graduation). A lot of you have been here a while and are still moving forward. The reason we haven’t had anyone make it a year yet is because it is difficult.”
Kegley said Fletcher came to the court in February of 2015 which means he went through the program nearly as fast as it can be done, but Kegley cautioned it wasn’t without some setbacks.
“Most of you will find that it’s hard to get through this thing without setbacks,” Kegley said. “We all know that’s the nature of the beast.”
Fletcher told the Daily Times about the journey from addiction to graduation from drug court.
“It’s been rough,” Fletcher said. “I struggled but I knew I had people there behind me all the way to keep me going forward. No one gave up on me. It was all about showing trust, honesty, openmindedness, willingness.”
Fletcher is now working 40 hours a week at a new job as a full time welder in Pike County and said he is working up to more benefits.
“When I first came in here (court) I was scared. I was nervous. I was a wreck,” Fletcher said. “Now it just feels like all the weight came off my shoulders and I’m free and I feel like I’m becoming a better man.”
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.