Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio
Court News Ohio

Single Mom Makes the Most of Drug Court’s Second Chance

Image of a woman and a toddler participating in a video conference

Dixie, pictured with her daughter, recently became Lorain County Family Drug Court’s 63rd graduate.

Image of a woman and a toddler participating in a video conference

Dixie, pictured with her daughter, recently became Lorain County Family Drug Court’s 63rd graduate.

Second chances are staples of Ohio’s drug courts and a northeastern Ohio court showed its willingness to support participants no matter how many attempts it takes.

Lorain County Family Drug Court, the first specialized docket in Ohio to host a virtual graduation during the pandemic a year ago, recently held a similar celebration for its newest graduate.

“This is one tough fight,” said Lorain County Domestic Relations Judge Sherry Glass. “You have been fighting every day for your life, your happiness, and your child. You did it.”

The celebration recognized Dixie, a single mother who has struggled with substance use disorder for years. This latest attempt at recovery was her second in the drug court.

“I’m so thankful for all the grace and patience that everyone has shown me,” Dixie said.

This drug court, established 21 years ago, helps parents who are battling substance use issues. The court’s goal is reunifying parents, or having them remain with their children.

The effort is comprised of several organizations, including the court, multiple other legal entities, Lorain County Children Services, treatment providers, and other community partners.

One of the program’s pillars for a holistic rehabilitative approach is incorporating self-care and wellness. Dixie found her healthy balance through yoga and meditation.

The court encapsulated that connection of mind and body into a single word to describe its 63rd graduate – drishti. It’s a yoga training technique and metaphor for a focused gaze to enhance vision and consciousness.

The tradition of associating a word with a graduate was one of the many ceremonial customs continued despite the event’s videoconference format.

Judge Glass remotely presented Dixie with a graduation certificate and other tokens as rewards. One item was a tree of life pendant meant to illustrate a strong foundation and unlimited growth.

“She was truly rooted. She knew this was her last opportunity for reunification with her child,” said the court’s specialized dockets coordinator Jen Kerns.

Following an unsuccessful first attempt with Lorain County Family Drug Court due to alcoholism, Dixie’s life quickly spiraled out of control.

Prior to the program, she had moved to Ohio with her toddler, Jasmine, to be closer to family and escape an abusive relationship in Montana. Unfortunately, substance use disorder inevitably fractured trust with Dixie’s siblings, and her lack of control eventually led to criminal charges.

“It has not been an easy or smooth road, but graduation day is exactly where we want all of our drug court participants to land,” said Deanna Wise, a children services casework supervisor.

Having bottomed out, Dixie came back to the court, this time fully committed to treatment and to address the issues that routinely led to her self-medication.

She turned into a “model of openness” as a regular for treatment and therapy sessions, worked to secure sober housing at the county’s first residential project for homeless women, started a job, and has repaired relationships with family and herself.

“She let go of resentments, gained an understanding of healthy boundaries, and worked hard to value herself,” Kerns said.