- Associated Press - Sunday, September 13, 2020

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - Participants in the Campbell County Juvenile and Family Drug Court have a chance to make their own lives better, but it’s up to them to decide whether they want that to happen.

Like those in the Adult Felony Treatment Court, they struggle with substance abuse. But they’re also dealing with teenager issues, such as opening a checking account at the bank or turning in an English paper a day late.

At a recent Juvenile and Family Drug Court hearing, Magistrate Kim Hoff praised one participant for having a plan to stay away from alcohol while on a camping trip, while she reprimanded another who’d just had a rough week following the program’s rules.

J.R. Bailey, the program’s probation officer, reminded the young man that he was facing a possession charge. If it stuck, it would follow him the rest of his life, the Gillette News Record reported.

“This program’s hard, but all you’ve got to do is graduate, and that possession (charge) goes away,” he said. “You have to pick what your life looks like.”

Bobbie Brome picked what her life looked like. She chose to be in charge of her life and not be ruled by drug addiction and anxiety, with some help from the Juvenile and Family Drug Court.

Brome, 19, graduated from the program on her 386th day in it. It also was her 386th day of being sober, something she never thought was possible. Before she started the program, she’d been using marijuana, Adderall and alcohol. She was introduced to drugs at age 16 through her then-boyfriend.

Brome said that when she was using, she “would sit in the house most nights, sometimes for long periods with people I barely knew.” She didn’t think about her actions, she had a bad attitude and no motivation. And her relationships suffered, especially with her mother.

“She never gave up on me after our fights and bad days,” Brome said,

“I’m very proud of her now. She’s accomplished so much,” said her mom, Jacquie Downey. “She’s grown up so much.”

A little more than a year ago, Brome was put on probation for three months. She thought she could stay sober that whole time. But 15 days before she was supposed to get off, she failed a drug test and her probation was revoked.

Sshe thought the program was going to be “torture.” She said she felt all the rules and restrictions in the program were unnecessary.

In Juvenile and Family Drug Court, participants must attend weekly court sessions, individual mental health counseling and group and individual substance abuse treatment. They’re on intensive supervised probation and must undergo frequent and random testing.

There are immediate sanctions for violations and incentives for successes.

But eventually, during the first phase of the program, it clicked for Brome.

Attending group therapy sessions is what changed her mindset about the program. Listening to adults tell their stories about recovering from substance abuse showed her what could happen to her if she didn’t get clean, but it also gave her hope. She thought if those adults could overcome their addiction after years and years of using, then she could do it too.

“I now understand the difference between being sober and staying clean,” Brome said.

Kim Krogman, a substance abuse counselor with Personal Frontiers, praised Brome for “holding other people accountable for not taking the program seriously. That’s huge, because people your age usually don’t do that.”

Brome said the program “was less scary” knowing that the other participants were going through the same struggles as she was.

“It didn’t just make me sober, it showed me how to be clean and healthy,” she said.

Bailey praised Brome for completing the program.

“Everything that you have been challenged to do, to try, to talk about, you’ve been willing to do, because you want to do better,” he said. “You are here because you chose to be in charge of your life.”

In June, she graduated from high school after dropping out twice. She’s focused every day on improving her mental health.

“I’ve learned my anxiety is nothing, and I’m capable of more than it lets me believe,” she said.

Her bond with her mom “is better than ever,” and she now has a desire to help others.

“I’m a stronger, more confident woman with hobbies and real goals for the future,” she said. “I’ll take these skills and positive attitude to my future job, college and wherever life takes me after today.”

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