Drug Court helps addiction sufferers

Published 11:58 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

By By W.T. WILLIAMS Special to The Standard
Those of us who give our support to the Escambia County Drug Court believe that it is one of the best in the nation. It is composed of professionals who are devoted to the task of helping those who suffer from the illness of addiction.
Drug Court is a substance abuse treatment program, which is closely monitored by the court. In order to enter the program, each defendant must agree to plead guilty to current charge(s). The program lasts a minimum of one year. After the program is completed, the charges may be dismissed and /or the defendant may avoid a term of incarceration. If the defendant does not complete the program, they will be sentenced according to current charges and their past criminal convictions.
There are factors, which will keep a defendant from being eligible for the program. Those restrictions include:
1.Defendants cannot have a history of violent behavior or sexual offenses. 2. Defendants cannot have been in possession of a weapon at the time of their offense. 3. Defendants cannot be participating in a Methadone maintenance program. 4.Defendants must not have transportation problems that would interfere with them attending treatment or meetings. 5. Defendents must have a verifiable residence 6. No drug traffickers are allowed to participate in this program.
One of the devoted, professionals of Drug Court is Sally Kapusciak. Sally was born in La Junta, Colo., but grew up in Wyoming. Her dad was an insurance adjustor. Unfortunately, Sally's mom was an alcoholic.
At the age of nine, Sally learned about the heartbreaks and disappointments associated with alcoholism, when her mom died from complications of cirrhosis of the liver. The death of her mom from this illness would have a profound effect on young Sally's life. Later on, it would dramatically affect her choice of a career.
In 1976, Sally Kapusciak received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Roosevelt University in Chicago, Ill. In that same year, she married and worked at various odd jobs. All the while, Sally struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. It had been a recurring problem in her life for years.
She graduated from the University of West Florida in 1995 with a degree in social work and was employed as a case manager for the elderly. Later, she worked for a home health agency as a medical social worker. Sally was also employed, for a year, in a pediatric AIDS program known as the Escambia AIDS Services and Education, or EASE.
During the early part of the 1990s, Sally had a series of crises and losses in her life that caused her to seek treatment. The person who helped Sally turn her life around was a licensed clinical social worker who had been one of her university instructors. Sally had always known that she wanted to be a social worker, but thought that it would be working with children. While in therapy, Sally Kapusciak realized that she did not have to do this kind of social work. Getting into treatment with this particular licensed clinical social worker was, according to Sally, "The dawn of a new day."
With the encouragement of her therapist, Sally went on to obtain her master's degree in social work with an emphasis in clinical practice. She became a licensed graduate social worker in 2001.
As an undergraduate intern with Southwest Alabama Mental Health (SWAMHA) in the year 2000, Sally Kapusciak had made a good impression on her superiors. In fact, she made such a good impression that she was asked to work for them.
Today, Sally runs the substance abuse program for Southwest Alabama Mental Health in Atmore. Her clientele are the substance-dependent men and women who are ordered by the Escambia County Drug Court to attend. It is a vital part of the Drug Court program. Each man or woman in the program must successfully complete it, along with the other requirements, to be eligible for graduation. Sally does an assessment on each of them and they receive treatment based on her assessment.
Sally Kapusciak is a role model for the substance-dependent men and women who come before Judge Byrne each week in drug court. She has the confidence of each of them because of her background and compassion for them. Her compassion is real. It is not fake. She gives help and hope to those who feel "helpless and hopeless." Sally knows where each of them is coming from because in her own life she has truly, "walked the walk and talked the talk." Now, she is giving back to those less fortunate than her. It is a way of life for Sally. It is one that she loves.