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Sobriety Court Reflects on 10 Years and Announces Name Change to ASPIRE Court

Brandon Holcombe with his family.

Pictured: Graduate Brandon Holcombe with his family.

After 10 years of impacting the lives of Buncombe County residents and their journey along the road to recovery, Sobriety Court will transition to a new name that more accurately reflects what they do. “Years ago, we changed the name from DWI Court to Sobriety Court.," shares presiding Judge Julie Kepple. "The thought then was that we wanted to reflect that we were working with people and not a charge, making it person-centered. Sobriety refers to the absence of a substance while recovery refers to an active, ongoing commitment and holistic practice of remaining substance free while addressing issues that led to substance use in the first place. Treatment court is a place where courts meet the community, and we are proud to transition to a new name; Approaches to Supporting People In Recovery Everyday (ASPIRE). ASPIRE is more than a name, it is an aspiration, not only for our participants but also for our court.” 

Established in October 2013, the Buncombe County Sobriety Court was the first DWI Court in Western North Carolina. It became operational in February 2014, operating with a primary mission to increase public safety and save lives by reducing recidivism of persons with alcohol and drug use disorders. Over 160 participants have graduated from this treatment court since its inception.

A recent graduation celebration brought community partners together to honor a months-long process, rigorous coursework, and to congratulate the most recent class of graduates. On March 12, a ceremony at the courthouse offered graduates the opportunity to celebrate their hard work and accomplishment with friends and family members.

How treatment court works

During their time in the program, participants complete five phases including extended assessment, active treatment and early recovery, relapse prevention, recovery management, and sustaining recovery. Some of the requirements from those phases include:

  • Identifying behavior related to substance use and how that aligns with various models of addiction.
  • Developing relapse prevention plans that help them identify warning signs associated with relapse and develop strategies to manage challenges they will encounter.
  • Effectively demonstrating the coping skills necessary to remain abstinent from substance use with decreased structure and support from a formal treatment setting.
  • Actively engaging in a process of self-evaluation to identify past problem behaviors and be able to verbalize changes to others.
  • Utilizing action plans to support changes, model positive coping skills and use assertive communication skills in all aspects of their life.

To be eligible to graduate participants must finish all associated goals within the five phases along with completing treatment obligations, remaining current with all court and probation fees, attending all required appointments with their probation officer, and appearing for all call-in drug screens.

The ASPIRE Court team works very hard to provide support and resources to all participants so they have the best chance at succeeding as they move through the five phases toward graduation. The commencement ceremony is extremely important to this process as it provides the graduates with an important milestone where they can celebrate their accomplishments while reflecting on their journey, and this often is the start of an extended relationship with Court staff as mentors to future participants.

“This team is compassionate and caring about every single soul we touch,” notes Kepple. “This program is about helping participants see the need to prioritize themselves to be successful on this journey.”

“I’m thankful for everyone in this program,” says Curtis, a recent graduate. “I know it’s helped me to be a better person. It’s helped me set goals I didn’t think were possible.”

Previous graduates attest to its effectiveness saying it provides them with support they previously never had, and that helps them feel uplifted while staying sober, setting goals, and ultimately maintaining sobriety.

If you would like additional information about ASPIRE Court and other Treatment Courts, click here. Please note that changes to our website will be coming soon to reflect the new name. 

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Updated Mar 22, 2024 02:44 PM
Published Mar 22, 2024 01:00 PM

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