How drug treatment courts have affected the fight against drugs in Southwest MO

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An option to help Southwest Missourians battling drugs has been impacting people in the community for more than a decade.

There are only 5 juvenile treatment courts in Missouri, and two are right here in the Southwest region — one in McDonald County and one in Newton County. It has been around for more than 15 years helping many kids, like Ty West. Ty explains how court is helpful for those kids trying to seek guidance when drugs were all they used to turn to for comfort.

“I was just spiraling out of control,” says Ty West.

Ty West was arrested as a teenager after he was caught abusing drugs.

“I was scared,” says Sasha Roark.

“I actually got turned into the police by my mom, because I was smoking. I was dealing a little bit. Just doing stuff I shouldn’t have been,” says Ty West.

Ty was then ordered to complete juvenile treatment court where he would be monitored weekly by officers from the McDonald County Juvenile Office.

“Drugs are usually a byproduct of a different problem for juveniles,” says Dereck Price.

“It’s not a recreational let’s have fun on Friday, Saturday night. These kids here have something they are dealing with on an emotional level that they don’t understand and they’re trying to escape,” says Sasha Roark.

In its 15 years, the treatment court has seen many successes, keeping kids out of jail, which means less cost for the state.

“In my line of business it’s probably not good if I see you over and over and I don’t see most of these folks again,” says John LePage.

And now, Ty and his mom are speaking out to others who are currently in the program.

“Every step forward that you make is one step further you get from the past,” says Ty West.

“I was afraid I was going to lose my son forever, and I have him. And that relationship is more than anything else,” says Sasha Roark.

Ty is now focusing on his career and helping support his family. He tells me without this option he has no idea where he’d be — he says his life has never been better and his mom is so thankful for the relationship they now have.

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