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From rock-bottom to graduation day: Drug Court program a success for local former addict

By JOLEEN FERRIS

UTICA, N.Y. (WKTV) - When Nick Morrison's search for a bigger and better party lead him to heroin, there wasn't room for anything else in his life.
 
"I was unemployed, I was robbing and stealing to make money to feed my habit," said Morrison, 33. "My brothers had written me off, my parents had written me off, my friends, I backed myself away from them. 
 
"I put drugs before everything else in my life."
 
Morrison didn't descend to this all-time low overnight.
    
"It was over a course of time. It took many years to get from a hard working drinker to a no working heroin addict."
   
With multiple arrests, including a felony, Morrison was the perfect candidate for Oneida County's grueling, 12-month Drug Court program. After a few false starts, which are common and expected in the program, Morrison is now 660+ days clean and poised for an early June graduation. 
    
But drug court leadership could see a void; an undeserved population of local users.
     
"We saw more and more people who were getting arrested and their rap sheet wasn't 20 or 30 pages long," said Drug Court Case Manager Robert Fuller.
    
The 12-month drug court program now has a younger sibling; a six-month, abbreviated/accelerated program which targets beginning users, before they become hardcore addicts.
 
"Our hope is to take the less-frequent user and give them this opportunity to see that it can be worse, but this is your opportunity to correct it now before it gets to that point," said Fuller.
    
A candidate must have a misdemeanor, not felony, arrest, and cannot have an extensive criminal history. 
     
The six-month program is in its infancy. It began in January currently has only a few participants. But drug court case managers have no doubt those ranks will grown fast and soon. 
   
The program in general gets a shining endorsement from soon-to-be graduate Nick Morrison. 
   

"I've made friends that I never thought I'd have - real friends, friends that aren't just using me for something, for money or for drugs, real friends that honestly care about me. I have the respect of my family back, my community, my friends, I work two jobs and this is all a direct result of drug court". 

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