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??Drug court gave graduate his life back

Friday, November 23, 2007

"Drug court is amazing. It's like a study guide to learn who you are and how to live a successful life." - Frank Weber

By Lisa Schlichtman

If it wasn't for Stone County Drug Court, Frank Weber said he would be dead or in prison. The 32-year-old Branson resident credits the drug court program with giving him his life back.

The life Weber now leads is far different than the life he left when he entered the drug court system. Back in January of 2006, Weber had no job, no money, no relationship with his two sons and no place to live.

"When I got out of jail that last time, all I had a duffel bag of clothes," said Weber. "I burned every bridge I had."

Weber also possessed a lengthy criminal history, including 10 assault charges, two driving while intoxicated charges, one boating while intoxicated charge and finally a possession of a controlled substance charge that landed him in jail.

"After the meth charge, I sat in jail for three and a half months, I thought I was going to prison and I was ready to go to prison," said Weber. "I had a paid lawyer and he told me that he thought the prosecutor was going to offer me drug court, and I told him no at first. There was a part of me that knew I was an addict and an alcoholic but I wasn't ready to quit."

Weber said he started drinking at age 12 after he moved with his mother to Reeds Spring. He graduated from Reeds Spring High School and attended Central Methodist University in Fayette on a football scholarship. He attended CMU for one year and then his fiance got pregnant and he dropped out of college at the end of his first year.

"I started using cocaine in college, and it became my life," said Weber. "Every dollar I made went to cocaine. The more money I made, the more drugs I did. My life was out of control."

Weber's continued drug use led to his divorce and estrangement from his two sons. Although cocaine was his drug of choice, Weber said he eventually began using meth because it was accessible.

"During the three weeks before my final arrest, I was messed up and miserable," said Weber. "I remember being high and saying a prayer, asking the Lord to get me out. I was done. The next morning was when our house was raided and I was arrested. Now I realize that was God answering my prayer."

Weber's arrest resulted in more time in jail and then 29 days in rehab. During his stint in rehab, Weber, once an avowed racist, was partnered with a black counselor.

"It was kind of fitting," said Weber. "He put me in my place in a kind way. He was very nice to me and that kind of scared me. That black gentleman was the first person who got me to get on my knees. I remember crying out, 'if you're truly there God, I need some help.' I believe the Holy Spirit started working on me right then, and my whole attitude and demeanor began to change."

When Weber got out of rehab, he was ready to enter Stone County's drug court system.

Weber's involvement in drug court spanned 17 months and encompassed four different phases of treatment. The first phase lasted six months and required intensive involvement.

During the first phase, Weber met with his probation officer twice a week, attended Narcotics Anonymous (NA) or Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings three times a week, attended four hours of classes a week at a treatment center and underwent three urine analyses (UAs) a week.

"In the beginning, drug court was helping me stay clean," said Weber. "I never had structure in my life, and drug court gave me structure. I had to follow their rules, which was good for me.

"I was told there would be zero tolerance - one mistake and you're going to prison," said Weber. "I didn't like it at first, but I needed it."

During the next two phases, the drug court rules relaxed over time depending on the progress Weber was making. In phases 2 and 3, Weber met with his probation officer less frequently, attended fewer treatment classes and had fewer UAs. For Weber, phases two and three lasted five months and three months respectively. During the final two months of drug court, rules reverted back to phase one of the program.

Weber graduated from drug court in June and has become a vocal advocate for the program.

"Drug court helped me find myself," said Weber who credits the program with helping him restore his relationship with his sons, now ages 9 and 13. "This year, I got to coach my youngest boy's football team. Now that's a blessing I wouldn't have received if it wasn't for drug court."

Drug court also provided Weber with a new found faith in the justice system.

"When I was selling drugs and doing drugs, I thought every police officer, prosecuting attorney and judge were out to get me," said Weber. "Through drug court, I learned they cared and wanted to help me. When I realized they cared and wanted me to do good, a lot of things began to change for me.

"I don't know why Judge Blankenship and Mr. (Matt) Selby (Stone County prosecutor) took a chance on me. But they did, and I'm glad," Weber added.

Today, Weber is remarried and owns his own masonry business. He uses his business as an opportunity to talk to his workers and hopefully point their lives in the right direction.

"The only way I can truly thank God is to talk to others and try to bring them out of their misery," said Weber. "I believe drug court was God opening up a door for me."Drug court is amazing. It's like a study guide to learn who you are and how to live a successful life," added Weber. "I have my life back, and I'm at peace with myself."

This is the fourth in a series of articles focusing on a proposed drug court in Barry County. ing. In phases 2 and 3, Weber met with his probation officer less frequently, attended fewer treatment classes and had fewer UAs. For Weber, phases two and three lasted five months and three months respectively. During the final two months of drug court, rules reverted back to phase one of the program.

Weber graduated from drug court in June and has become a vocal advocate for the program.

"Drug court helped me find myself," said Weber who credits the program with helping him restore his relationship with his sons, now ages 9 and 13. "This year, I got to coach my youngest boy's football team. Now that's a blessing I wouldn't have received if it wasn't for drug court."

Drug court also provided Weber with a new found faith in the justice system.

"When I was selling drugs and doing drugs, I thought every police officer, prosecuting attorney and judge were out to get me," said Weber. "Through drug court, I learned they cared and wanted to help me. When I realized they cared and wanted me to do good, a lot of things began to change for me.

"I don't know why Judge Blankenship and Mr. (Matt) Selby (Stone County prosecutor) took a chance on me. But they did, and I'm glad," Weber added.

Today, Weber is remarried and owns his own masonry business. He uses his business as an opportunity to talk to his workers and hopefully point their lives in the right direction.

"The only way I can truly thank God is to talk to others and try to bring them out of their misery," said Weber. "I believe drug court was God opening up a door for me."Drug court is amazing. It's like a study guide to learn who you are and how to live a successful life," added Weber. "I have my life back, and I'm at peace with myself."

This is the fourth in a series of articles focusing on a proposed drug court in Barry County.



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