Drug Court Helped Man Turn Life Around

By Kelly Burch 02/20/19

After struggling with drug addiction, a Missouri man was able to change his life with the help of a drug court program.

man smiling after finding success with the help of drug court

A year ago, Casey Barbero was using drugs and getting into fights, a pattern that had defined more than half his life. When an argument with his father turned physical and the police were called, Barbero was ready to surrender.

“I just sat there and waited for the police with the drugs on me. I knew it was the right thing to do. It was the right time,” he told The Missourian. Instead of being sent to jail, Barbero agreed to attend drug court, a program that connects people with treatment and jobs in an attempt to help them stay sober and out of jail.

Nine months later, Barbero is the type of success story that the more than 3,000 drug courts around the country strive toward. 

“He made up his mind from the get-go, ‘This is what I want, I want a different path in life.’ And he’s done that,” said Felecia Jackson-Qualls, a recruiter for Job Point, an organization that works with the Missouri drug courts to help people find employment. 

Jackson-Qualls said that Barbero’s progress is inspirational and shows what can happen when the justice system opens doors rather than closing them for people who have struggled with substance use disorder. 

“It brings tears to my eyes because I’m seeing where he’s coming from. And I see where he’s got to. When you see someone go through those different steps and those hurdles and you see them advancing, then we know we're doing a good job. That makes all the difference in the world to me,” she said. 

Barbero said that he’s eager to not even think about drugs, but for now he has to confront his substance use disorder each week when he reports on his progress in front of the court. 

He said, “I pretty much am there now. I am reminded of it because I have to be for drug court. It’s good to remember, but I definitely don’t need to dwell on it.”

Barbero now works in construction, and has dreams of owning a home and starting a family, things that seemed far away when he was in active addiction. 

“I want to be in a place where I firmly know what I am, what are my goals for the future and my future plans. Right now, I have a good idea,” he said. 

Although some people balk at the strict drug court program, Barbero said that the guidance and work requirements have been helpful. 

"It's better to be doing that than the stuff I was doing. I’m taking all that time I did waste and learning about things I'm interested in doing."

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.