Former addicts turn over leaf

The fresh faces of four Kaua‘i Drug Court graduates beamed yesterday in stark contrast to the mug shots captured of them in a sordid past.

In the seventh Kaua‘i Drug Court graduation ceremony since the program began, Michelle Sobolesky, J.R. Regasa, Bryan Slaichert and Paul Daly thanked family members, judges and sponsors for their support during the difficult road they traveled to get clean and sober.

The program that the four completed was designed to divert nonviolent substance abusing offenders to treatment and rehabilitation as an alternative to jail time. Participants in the program are required to take random urine tests, check in with their parole officers and undergo counseling. Once they have completed the program, they are handed a second chance: A dismissal of the charges they faced related to their addictions. Judge Calvin Murashige, to whom each graduate offered thanks in his/her speeches, gave each person a well-earned clean slate yesterday.

In their heartfelt statements, the graduates looked out to the standing-room only crowd recounting the pivotal moments that became their catalysts for change.

Daly, who said he was “faking it to make it,” when he was using, said yesterday that he was “very thankful for everyone’s patience.”

“I know where I am and where I was and I’m not faking it anymore,” he said.

Sobolesky, whose eyes welled up with tears when she witnessed a mug shot of herself that was more than one year old, couldn’t contain her emotions.

“I am so happy right now,” she said, bearing seven lei family members had adorned her with like fragrant trophies.

Slaichert said he felt similar sentiment. “I feel good,” he said.

On-hand to give lei, hugs and praise were County Council members Mel Rapozo, Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, JoAnn Yukimura, Mayor Bryan Baptiste, Judges Kathleen Watanabe and Murashige and retired judge George Masuoka.

The Friends of Kaua‘i Drug Court was established in July 2004 to help foster positive behavior within the stages of rehabilitation. To learn more, call 245- 2762.

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