You see them walking Main Street twice a day every Monday through Friday. If you don't know who they are, you may wonder why this assorted group of various ages, races, and styles of dress are flocking together.
They are the men of the Morehead Inspiration Center, and they are "trudging the road to happy destiny."
That's a line from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the 12-step foundation for recovery at this residential treatment facility. It aptly describes the three-mile round trip walk, or "trudge," from the center to the United Methodist Church, where they take classes called Recovery Dynamics.
"Traditionally, addicts and alcoholics in active addiction move under cover of night in dark, seedy places," said MIC program director Tony White.
"We want the exact opposite. We want them out during the day in the sunlight getting exercise and fresh air."
Trudging, White said, focuses on the destination while enjoying the journey.
Recovery Dynamics classes educate clients about addiction, and introduce them to themselves through discussions and homework assignments about spirituality, honesty and motivation.
White is in recovery himself, and subscribes to the peer-based model in practice at MIC and nine other Recovery Kentucky centers across the state.
He said the peer-based model works because it's often useful for someone in recovery from addiction to help someone trying to find their way.
"The person who has been in the program for a while can say 'I've been there, I've done that, I've been in your shoes' and that man or woman can connect with and help a newcomer and be a living example that recovery works," White said.
"The older member is reminded of where they've been and the new member is given hope about where they can go," he added.
The MIC applies key elements of the 12-step philosophy--- surrender, accountability, and change--- through daily processes.
Each client is assigned chores, participates in community round-robins where he confronts his fellows' behaviors and makes suggestions for change, and attends 12-step meetings daily. Clients are also subjected to random drug screens.
The program encourages clients to surrender to the reality that drugs and alcohol have been a problem with far-reaching consequences and that recovery is a daily process.
Clients in long term rehabilitation at the MIC or elsewhere may be physically separated from their families, but White said families are not excluded from the process.
"When a person focuses first on just not drinking and doing drugs, their lives get better. Then we can help them address other emotional issues like fears and family relations," he said.
"Hopefully, at that point the families will be willing to participate in that individual's recovery."
White said families are welcome to attend 12- step meetings offered daily at the center.
"Families are absolutely welcome at the 12- step meetings. We want to share the gift of recovery with all who are interested."
Residential treatment is one option for helping people with drug and alcohol problems, but there are others.
Karen Gulley is the recovery coordinator for Rowan County Drug Court, a judicial program that helps felony offenders with substance abuse problems recover their lives, their families, and their finances from addiction through an intensive and rigorous process.
"Drug Court is hard work," Gulley said.
"It's very structured to keep clients busy, because in reality our lives are busy if we're working jobs, we go home at night to a second job with our kids, spouses and loved ones," she added.
The Rowan County Drug Court currently has 24 participants in various phases of the program. The program typically lasts about 18 months, but varies according to an individual's progress, motivation and compliance.
Participants move through four phases. In each phase, they meet with a case manager and complete an individualize program plan that addresses substance abuse, financial restitution such as paying child support and fines, and helps them learn responsibility and accountability.
Participants are required to submit to random drug screens, attend 12-step meetings and individual and group sessions, complete weekly journal assignments and are encouraged to avoid people, places and things that could jeopardize their recovery.
"The 12-step program is a key part of the recovery process. It's important that they attend meetings, get a sponsor and work with that person to change their lifestyle," Gulley said.
District Judge Don Blair is also the Drug Court Judge for Rowan County. He knows each participant by name, and sees them regularly in closed court sessions.
Blair agreed that drug court is difficult, but he said, so is recovery.
"It does take hard work to complete the program," Blair said.
"But when someone has been in addiction for some time, they haven't fulfilled their responsibilities to their families and to the community, and they have to re-learn how to be a sober, productive member of society."
Blair said he gets to know each participant individually, and gains insight on their struggles and progress when he reads their journals.
"Each Monday, I assign a topic and they are to write about it and turn in the journals on Thursday," he said.
"I read each one. In reading them I learn more about each one, their struggles, their victories and their personal perspectives."
Blair also talks to participants one by one when they come to court, and tracks their progress and compliance with the help of a multidisciplinary team comprised of attorneys, law enforcement officers, social workers and community members.
The drug court team meets weekly to review the progress of each participant. There are times, Gulley said, when the team must discuss consequences for participants who fail to follow program rules.
"We have a strike system and sanctions. Strikes occur, for example, when a person loses their meeting sheet or misses a group and doesn't call ahead," she said.
"After three strikes, the person goes to jail for 24 hours."
Sanctions occur from the bench with input of the drug court team. Blair may sentence a participant to jail for one day up to two weeks for failing a drug screen or for other issues of noncompliance.
Word on the street is that drug court, and its rigorous requirements, is not for everyone.
Brian Bradshaw, the program supervisor, agrees.
"If a person is not ready to change their life and be willing to work hard and invest in their recovery, then drug court is not for them," Bradshaw said.
Work comes not only in the form of active 12 step work, but each participant also must get and keep a job or fulfill a certain number of community service hours.
Gulley said the program has forged partnerships with several local businesses and agencies, such as Arby's, Wendy's, and the recycling center, that are willing to hire drug court participants, Gulley said.
So far, the 27 participants have graduated from Rowan County Drug Court.
Usually by the time a person has completed the program, their criminal case is closed, most or all of their fines have been paid and their families have become more stable. Drug court has a proven track recover for reducing recidivism as well.
"We've had drug-free babies born among our participants, and we've had participants who are now clean and sober and reunited with their families," she said.
"It takes a lot of courage to do this program, but it is possible, and we've seen miracles take place," Gulley added.