By Myriam Carter, Adult Clinical Coordinator
Working with offenders can be challenging and rewarding at the same time. In our community, clients are court-ordered to come to the Guidance/Care Center (GCC) for evaluation and treatment of substance abuse problems. Thankfully, the GCC provides them with a safe place to explore their substance abuse-related issues, identify and acknowledge their addiction, and develop healthy coping mechanisms to decrease their chances of relapse and reoffending.
For example, a client reluctantly attended groups because he was six months sober (mostly during jail time), but while in outpatient services, his ex-wife started using drugs. She lost custody of their five-year-old daughter and our client began working with the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) and gained custody. This was full circle from felon to father and proves that recovery does work. He was grateful that our program was there when he needed it!
The GCC utilizes the relapse prevention curriculum, which is an evidence-based practice aimed at reducing the risk of relapse by teaching a variety of tools. Having a safe environment where ideas are allowed to grow provides this population with more opportunities for change. Many clients must battle dilemmas related to stigma, criminal justice involvement, and a lack of insight. For the GCC team, the work is endless, but fulfilling. I am a firm believer in not locking up the problem as this can make things worse for the offender. We must face these challenges head-on and treat this as a disease and a mental health crisis in our community.