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Pro Tip: Do Not Bring Drugs to Jury Duty

Empty jury box in court room

Does the reminder not to bring drugs into a courthouse seem unnecessary? To many, it seems as obvious as saying, “Don’t forget to drive on the right side of the road.” For people living in active addiction, it is one of those things that can happen accidentally and ultimately serve as a blessing in disguise.

At West Pasco Judicial Center in Pasco County, Florida, a woman recently reported for jury duty with a pocket full of drugs and paraphernalia. She set off alarms as she went through security screening at the courthouse entrance. When searched, Pasco County officers found that she was carrying packets of white powder and a straw that carried traces of methamphetamine. The white powder was determined to be cocaine.

The woman was arrested and booked at the Land O’Lakes Jail and will face charges of possession of cocaine, drug paraphernalia, and meth. She reportedly told officers that she “forgot [the drugs and paraphernalia] were in her pants pocket.”

She has the opportunity to make some life-changing choices and improve her life for the better now that an addiction that was previously undercover has been revealed.

Small Mistakes, Big Consequences

Though it may sound like a ridiculous mistake to many, everyone who has spent time in active addiction can relate. There are many stories about people inadvertently forgetting a metal pipe in their bag and trying to board a plane, running a red light with open containers in plain view, calling the cops to ask for help dealing with people who stole their drugs, and other seemingly improbable events. But it doesn’t stop there.

Everyone in active addiction has said or done something to a loved one that hurt the relationship, gotten behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated, stolen a precious object from a loved one, hurt someone physically, or otherwise taken risks due to chronic and heavy use of substances. This focus on sustaining addiction above all else is par for the course in an addiction disorder. The longer that one uses mind-altering substances, the more the function of the brain is altered, with a steady shift toward increased cravings and impulsive behaviors chosen based on their ability to address those cravings.

It is only with treatment that includes medical detox and intensive therapeutic support that someone living in addiction will be able to safely stop using all drugs and begin making choices that are based on clear thinking and a focus on wellness.

The Blessing in Disguise

Though in the moment it may feel like terrible luck to make a mistake that results in life-changing consequences like arrest, that moment has the potential to be the catalyst for incredible and positive growth. When it is clear to you, law enforcement, and those who are close to you that your use of substances has reached a crisis point, action can be taken to connect you with the services that will help you to heal. In many cases, Florida police can help to connect those arrested on drug-related charges to treatment right away. If accomplished through the Florida drug courts, depending on the specifics of the case, the choice to enroll in treatment can ultimately result in no jail time and potentially an expunged record.

If there is no support through the court system, private drug rehab programs here in Florida can be of assistance. In the months and years following an arrest for a drug-related crime, entering drug addiction treatment and staying sober can demonstrate to your probation officer and/or the court that you are genuinely working to make positive changes and support your community – perhaps even by serving on jury duty.

Additionally, because you are sober, you can get and maintain steady employment, find a safe place to live, support your kids if needed, and show that you are growing in recovery – not only to the courts but to yourself and your family.

What will encourage you to take the steps necessary to get the help you need? Arrest? Overdose? Accident? Don’t wait for the worst to happen. Take steps to help yourself in recovery now.

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