Ramsey County Substance Abuse Court celebrates 20th anniversary

There was a special anniversary to celebrate those recovering from substance abuse in St. Paul on Friday.

The Ramsey County Adult Substance Abuse Court recognized its 20th anniversary.

One program graduate who has turned his life around says he’s now been sober for 12 years.

“It’s a very long and lonely road, long and lonely road. I was a drug addict for 10 years before the drug court found me, I didn’t find them they found me in the jail cell,” said Vilye Yang, a program graduate.

Yang says his only thought when he was approached for this program was it was a chance to get out of jail. But it took a lot of work and commitment, and he was eventually able to get back to a normal life.

Friday’s celebration happened at the Ramsey County Courthouse in downtown St. Paul.

This program started in 2002 with the goal of giving people the chance to break the cycle of substance abuse. That’s done through assessment, treatment, strict drug testing, plus immediate sanctions and incentives to stay on track.

Second Judicial District Chief Judge Leonardo Castro said Friday that 65% of all inmates have a substance abuse disorder, and this program saves lives every single day.

“Our treatment courts are the single most successful intervention in our nation’s history for leading people living with substance abuse disorders and mental illnesses out of the justice system and living a life of recovery and a life of stability,” Castro said.

To learn more about treatment courts or addiction resources, click here.