My Recovery Court Experience

By Gary Davis, VOICE Vendor

Gary DavisI have been homeless off an on since 1999 due to a 30-year struggle with alcoholism. I’ve been in and out of jails, prisons, detox programs, treatment centers, and hospitals over the years. I became involved in Recovery Court for a charge of trespassing on RTD property in October 2014.

Let me describe how it works upon entering Recovery Court: each person works with a case worker at Mental Health Center of Denver (MHCD) to develop a plan that sets attainable, short-term goals with clearly defined action steps. There are four phases to this program. Each treatment phase has its own treatment goals and skill sets that a participant is responsible for achieving. Individuals progress through one phase to the next based on the recommendations of their caseworker and treatment providers.

Frequent court reviews afford the Recovery Court team the opportunity to respond quickly to your behaviors, whether positive or negative. Incentives are rewards for positive behavior, while sanctions are the imposition of a consequence for negative behavior. When you demonstrate compliance and progress in treatment, you will be awarded incentives such as gift certificates, reduction in court costs, recognition from the judge and Recovery Court team members, and promotion to the next phase.

If you continue to use substances or violate program rules, you will be subjected to sanctions. Sanctions are imposed every time an undesirable behavior occurs. The sanctions will increase in severity for serious violations as well as repeated violations. Sanctions imposed by the Court may include time in custody, increased testing, community service, essays, and increased supervision.

In my own case, I have been attending two life skills classes weekly, going to a court review once a week, meeting with my case worker once or twice each week, selling the Denver VOICE approximately ten hours per week, and submitting to random UAs. 

I have been clean and sober since Jan. 20, 2015. I have built a strong support system through my voluntary involvement in AA and my work with my sponsor living the 12 steps of recovery. I have attained independent housing with the help of MHCD, progressed to phase three of the recovery court program, am working toward becoming financially stable, and am establishing employment and work skills through educational classes. Within a year, I plan to be financially responsible and obtain permanent housing. What a change from living on the streets!

I thank God for everyone who is making my recovery possible because I have found a new way of life with purpose and meaning. The road is not easy. However, it has been worth the effort.

A special thanks to the Recovery Court program, the fellowship of AA, Open Door Fellowship Church, and my loyal Denver VOICE customers. God bless you. ■