ST. CHARLES – Greg Grooms’ addiction resulted in a few brushes with the law – a reality reflected in the art he submitted for the Drug Rehabilitation Court Art Show on Wednesday.
Grooms, 27, of Aurora, drew a picture of a prison inmate and included the words, “Every time I use, I break out in handcuffs.” He played on the idea that using drugs is like having an allergic reaction.
Grooms has spent six months in the Kane County Drug Rehabilitation Court fighting his heroin addiction. He said his experience so far has been positive, and he’s glad that the drug court has given him a structured path toward sobriety.
“With time, it’ll help push me back into society slowly instead of me just kicking [drugs] and going back out there,” he said.
Grooms was one of 157 drug court participants who had the opportunity to submit art – whether it was painting, drawing, poetry, video or music – to the second annual art show.
Carrie Thomas, program coordinator for the Kane County Drug Rehabilitation Court, said drug court participants voluntarily submitted art for the show. Entries included photo collages of participants and their families and poetry. One poster board included the phrase, “I was hopelessly dopeful. Now I’m dopelessly hopeful.”
“Having any kind of creative outlet can be very therapeutic and cathartic,” she said. “We have people who didn’t even know they could draw.”
Volunteers served hors d’oeuvres and played live music. Patricia Golden, presiding judge of the drug court program, said the event gives drug court participants a creative outlet and a chance to socialize in a sober environment.
She said it’s also important for participants to see the art other participants have submitted.
Thomas said drug court is a 30-month program for alcohol and drug addicts. Graduations are two times a year, and 19 people walked in the most recent graduation.
In order to complete drug court, participants have to follow through on recommended treatments, pay their court fines and have a full-time job or be a full-time student.
“We want them to be a contributing member of society,” she said. “Paying their debt to society is a big part of that.”
Golden said the program is beneficial even if participants don’t make it all the way through. She said the weekly court visits and drug tests three times a week help many participants stay sober for the longest period they’ve ever been sober.
“A lot of them are working for the first time in years or celebrating the holidays for the first time in years,” she said.