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As Rockdale and Newton counties continue to grow into bustling metropolitan areas, drug abuse is increasingly becoming a problem for everyone. Families, law enforcement, business owners, educators, taxpayers — we all feel the effects of an epidemic that is out of control. But by arming ourselves with the facts, it is possible to fight the addictions, the violent crime and the other drug-related stressors that test our community. Inside this section, you will find how many in our government are working to combat drug abuse, as well as hear from youth program organizers, educators and doctors on how to identify if your child has a drug or alcohol problem, and what you can do to combat it.

Rockdale Citizen & Newton Citizen • Sunday, May 16, 2010

Signs of teen drug abuse often overlooked BY CHRIS STARRS Staff Correspondent It would appear that today’s parents of teenagers would easily recognize the warning signs that their offspring may be abusing drugs, as many of those warning signs were the same ones that were present when they were teens. Yet many parents — who grew up during the time when marijuana, alcohol and other drugs were readily available and consumed by a significant portion of society — are still confounded due to the appearance of newer substances that are being abused. “The warning signs haven’t changed too much, but some of the starter drugs have,” said Rick King, an Athens-based licensed clinical social worker who has dealt with literally thousands of addiction cases during his long career. “In past years, it was pot and alcohol that were the easy-access drugs. Now with many students, the drugs of choice are

Adderall and Ritalin.” Adderall and Ritalin are relatively new players in the world of drug abuse. Both drugs are often prescribed for people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, but in the wrong hands act as high-powered stimulants. “Adderall is abused a lot these days by high school and college students,” said King. “And it’s generally not hard to see the warning signs when a kid comes home at night and is so wound up he won’t shut up and he can’t sleep. These drugs are often taken to hide the effects of drinking. I’ve worked for many years as a soccer referee, and I have an idea when there’s a kid on the field who may be taking one of these drugs — he won’t shut up, even if I yellow card him. He’ll argue about everything.” Pain medications, like Darvon and Lortab, are also drugs that are subject to abuse. King said the warning signs for the abuse of painkillers are not unlike

those of alcohol use. “It makes them loopy,” he said. “They’re feeling no pain and they’re feeling high. It’s a lot like alcohol, but without the tell-tale smell. The physical signs are that the kids are either sleeping a lot or they’re not sleeping enough. And the mood swings — the ups and downs — are often severe.” King added that one of the most prevalent warning signs parents should heed is the attempt by the abuser to utilize defensive tactics to get parents to leave them alone. And parents play right into the situation, he said, by playing along in order not to upset their children. “Young people can become belligerent and argumentative to try to get their parents off their backs,” he said. “They might also threaten retaliation or say that they’re depressed or suicidal to try to get their parents to back off and give them space. It can be very subtle, and a lot of parents don’t want to make their

children angry and they fall for it. I hear that a lot — kids are very smart about these kinds of things.” Because the parents of many teenagers experimented with — or even abused — drugs themselves at an early age, there’s a tendency by many to think, “Well, I tried pot and turned out OK.” King said this is extremely dangerous thinking, especially for younger children. “Statistics show that 90 percent of high school seniors have at least tried some form of illegal drug,” he said. “So it’s silly to ignore what might be obvious. One of the main problems with drug use by teens is that at that age, their brains are still growing, which makes addiction that much easier. I’ve worked with thousands of addicts, and I’ve yet to meet one that didn’t start using until after they got out of high school.”

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Seeing the need for help is the first step BY AIMEE JONES Staff Correspondent If you have a pulse, you have a chance. That is the mantra of many professionals who help those with substance abuses. Dr. Davine Sparks, director of the Newton Mental Health Center in Covington, said in her 25 years as a licensed social worker she has seen people turn lives consumed by addiction into lives defined by positive and productive actions. The first step, Sparks said, is to identify the problem, but that first step is one of the hardest. “Denial is such an entrenched part of addiction,” she said. In some ways, Sparks said, denial could be a separate mental health disorder. “Denial is so amazing — it really can make you believe what you want, almost like a delusion,” she said. For example, denial can take shape

among those who use only one drug. Sparks said many users will reason that because they aren’t addicted to all drugs, then they must not be addicted to any. In other words, a user who smokes marijuana and drinks alcohol may not have an addiction to alcohol, but that doesn’t mean he’s not abusing marijuana. “Of course, I tell people that if they’re using an addictive substance, then they have opened themselves to become addicted to it — period,” Sparks said. Another form of denial, and perhaps the most difficult to treat, is in the form of the functional addict. “Functional abusers are scary because they haven’t lost anything — they haven’t lost their job, they haven’t lost their house,” she said. “But just because a lot of bad things haven’t happened doesn’t mean you’re not addicted.” Often the addict is able to function because family members make excuses and cover for them with their employers, teachers or other authority figures. And this is the third form of denial — denial

by the addict’s loved ones that there is a problem. “Families all have the intention to help and the word ‘enabling’ means to help, but in this world, the word has a different slant,” Sparks said. “When enablers do something for the addict, they are covering up for them and helping them stay sick.” The solution? “Family members need to get information about addictions themselves,” Sparks said. The Newton and Rockdale Mental Health centers are part of the Gwinnett, Rockdale, Newton (GRN) Community Service Board and offer mental health and substance abuse treatment services. “We take a holistic approach,” Sparks said. She said GRN clinicians, who include nurses, licensed professional counselors and licensed social workers, treat a wide range of disorders, such as depression, bipolar and schizoaffective disorders. The current average caseload for these

clinicians is about 150 clients, Sparks said. Sparks said the intake process is critical to the client’s treatment plan since it is through the intake process that the client’s medical, family and substance use history is discussed. Most clients have what Sparks calls “co-occurring disorders,” which involve both substance abuse and a mental health disorder. “Help is out there,” Sparks said. “But it’s not enough to just know you have a problem, you have to do something about it.” GRN is a not-for-profit organization that operates on a sliding fee scale and is eligible to accept Medicaid. Anyone who needs to make an appointment can call a 24-hour phone line, at 770-962-5544 or 1-800-715-4225. More resources and information are available at GRN’s Web site, Newton Mental Health is located at 8201 Hazelbrand Road in Covington. Rockdale Mental Health is located at 977 Taylor St. in Conyers.



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Abuse of prescriptions on the rise BY BARBARA KNOWLES News Editor There comes a point where medicine will not cure, but will kill, and experts are alarmed at the rapid increase of deaths due to prescription drugs. According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, of the 638 drug overdose deaths in Georgia in 2008, 543 involved prescription drugs or a combination of prescription drugs and illicit drugs. There were 95 deaths involving illicit drugs only. Of those deaths, 16 were teens who were 17 years or younger. The age group 46 to 55 years comprised the largest group with 163 deaths. “Our main abusers are not young people, but middle-aged adults,” confirmed Commander Lt. Philip Bradford of the Covington/Newton County Special Investigations Unit. “Those people would never smoke marijuana, but they will take pills for pain and then before

Ten percent of high school students abuse prescription drugs, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. long, good people get addicted. They don’t see the danger or the wrong in it. They think, ‘Who am I hurting?’” The answer to that question is they are hurting themselves by damaging their livers and other vital organs in their body, altering personality and mental behavior and sometimes their heart simply won’t take the strain.

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770-787-8707 PAGE 4 • MAY 16, 2010 • CRISIS • THE CITIZEN

“Violators tell us that if a prescription says take two every four to six hours, they’ll take 10,” Bradford said. “It whacks them out so bad, they don’t understand what it’s doing to them. They know the effects, but they don’t know the true danger.” According to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency report, 10 percent of all high school students are now abusing prescription drugs, while another survey reveals that 2.7 million individuals age 12 to 17 and 6.9 million individuals aged 18 to 25 have abused prescription drugs at least once. Potentially, these teens are causing irreparable damage to vital organs, driving while under the influence and putting themselves at risk for death. Statistics reveal that for the first time prescription drugs are beating out marijuana and cocaine as the drug user’s choice, potentially because they are easier to obtain. More than 750,000 doctors are the subject of U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) investigations each year. Bradford said locally the trend is the same. “Our most increasing caseload is prescription drug offenders,” Bradford said. He said abusers counterfeit prescriptions, change the amount of pills prescribed on valid prescriptions and will “doctor shop,” meaning they go to several different physicians, complaining of something like “back pain” and get each doctor to write them prescriptions. Then they’ll take each prescription to a different pharmacy throughout the area. “They legally possess the pills, but a lot of times what they’re doing is getting

several hundred and selling them at $5, $8 or $10 each,” he said. And because these offenders are technically in legal possession of the drugs, proving they are doing something illegal with the medications is not easy. “The case can only be made through a sale which makes it more difficult for us,” Bradford said. “You can legally possess the prescription pills, but If you are in possession of cocaine or methamphetamine it’s illegal period and you can be arrested for a felony.” Teens can most easily obtain these drugs by opening their medicine cabinets and helping themselves to their parents’ medication, taking it themselves or selling it to friends. According to Director Rick Allen of the Georgia Drug and Narcotics Agency, the trend of prescription drug abuse among teens in Georgia is on the rise. He cited news accounts of kids having parties and dumping drugs in a bowl or of pharmacy students becoming addicted while in school. Allen suggested keeping prescription drugs locked up and away from kids, and he cautioned in this day of heavy media influence, children are becoming more exposed to drug use, noting it happens even with the very young. A favorite is OxyContin, commonly referred to as “legal heroin.” Allen said the powerful pain reliever is highly addictive and the lure is the “high” that can be reached with the drug. Other drugs popular with abusers and legitimately prescribed by the bucketsful for pain relief are Dilaudid, Lorcet, Lortab, Percocet, Percodan, Tylox and Vicodin. Commonly abused depressants are Librium, Valium and Xanax and on the other end of the spectrum, favorite stimulants are Adderall, Concerta and Ritalin. These tablets can be taken orally or they can be crushed and “snorted.” In some instances, abusers dissolve crushed tablets in water and then inject the solution. “People think because a doctor wrote it (a prescription), it’s legal, it’s safe to take. But they don’t realize they’re taking seriously dangerous drugs,” Allen said. Rockdale Citizen staff reporter Alena Parker contributed to this article.

Spice seen as alternative to marijuana BY CHRIS STARRS Staff Correspondent Although the packaged mix of herbs known as “Spice” or “K2” has been around since the 1990s, it has seemingly grown in popularity in recent years as an alternative to marijuana, providing a similar high without showing up in drug screens. Though some states are crafting legislation to make Spice — which is often marketed as incense — illegal, it is not considered a scheduled drug in the United States. According to a host of sources, Spice is comprised of synthetic chemical ingredients (or cannabinoids) which produce marijuanalike effects, although in reality a user actually has no concrete knowledge of what they’re consuming. Covington Police Department Lt. Philip Bradford, commander of the Covington-Newton County Special Investigation Unit, said law enforce-

ment agencies are still learning all they can about Spice. “Basically, they’ve tried to recreate the THC in the marijuana plant, which is what provides the high,” Bradford said. “It’s so new on the scene that we’re trying to learn as much about it as we can.” Bradford added that the investigation unit has gone throughout the community and has determined that Spice is at this time unavailable in Newton County through traditional retail channels. “No one knows much about it,” he said. “We’ve done a quick check to see its availability around here. You typically find something like Spice in a smoke shop and it’s not available in the ones around here. I’ve only found it available in one neighboring county. It doesn’t seem to be prevalent or a problem here yet, so maybe we can catch it before it becomes a problem.” Bradford added that he’s pleased

the smoke shop operators in the county don’t seem to want to have anything to do with the product, which earlier this year sent three Roswell teenagers to the hospital after smoking Spice. “We’ve checked around and have found it isn’t here,” Bradford said. “Most of the (retailers) we’ve talked to have the attitude that they don’t want it, which makes me feel good.” Perhaps one of the reasons Spice hasn’t caught on in the area is that marijuana remains quite prevalent. “Just this week we did a bust where we seized 25 pounds of marijuana,” he said recently. “I think we’re seeing the availability of marijuana back on the rise, based on the number of cases we’ve made. I guess you could say people don’t need a substitute when they can still get the real thing. Spice seems to be more popular up North, where it’s not as easy to grow marijuana.”

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to outside services as necessary, such as mental health consultations, doctor and dental visits as necessary, grief support groups and any other services the clients may require. We also teach anger management. Many of the clients have received their GED while in the Rockdale Houses. • The clients are responsible for doing the chores of keeping the houses running. They have cooking, cleaning and gardening chores. We also have full-service greenhouses that serve as therapy for the clients. Many of our clients have learned a lot of horticulture by working in the greenhouses. • To enter the Rockdale Houses, a client is screened over the telephone by the executive directors or directors of the houses. If they meet the eligibility requirements they are admitted. They must have a TB test that reads negative prior to admission and proof of citizenship.

Rockdale House for Women • 770-483-0213 MAY 16, 2010 • CRISIS • THE CITIZEN • PAGE 5

Agencies strive to address drug crime issues By BARBARA KNOWLES News Editor Some estimates are that as much as 90 percent of crime is caused by or is motivated by the quest for illegal drugs. Therefore, law enforcement agencies in Newton and Rockdale counties devote an extraordinary amount of manpower and hours to fighting drug abuse. To that end, the Covington Police Department and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office have formed the Special Investigations Unit comprised of six agents and headed up by Commander Lt. Philip Bradford. “We handle any investigation that would be considered long-term or out

of the norm ... anything that would require undercover surveillance using undercover officers,” Bradford explained. “One of our major functions is narcotics, but we do work other cases.” Bradford said the unit has averaged 130 to 150 cases and year since its inception in 2005. “All those cases require extensive investigation, building a case and gathering evidence. It generally takes a couple of months to make a case,” he said, adding that 90 percent of the cases they make result in felony convictions which draw large sentences. Their drug cases could be as simple as an undercover agent buying narcotics from someone


known to be selling drugs in a particular neighborhood to as complex as working with other law enforcement agencies to interrupt drug activity nationwide. Bradford said his unit works closely with the Newton County District Attorney’s Office to make absolutely sure that all evidence is gathered legally and the case will succeed in court. “We work side-by-side and hand-in-hand with the DA’s office. We couldn’t function without the close relationship we have with them. I’ve called (DA) Ken Wynne numerous times at home, as well as (Chief Assistant District Attorney) Layla Zon at home to ask about things that are out

of the norm.” Both the Covington Police Department officers and the Newton County Sheriff’s Office stress enforcement of drug laws on a day-to-day basis, as well. “Most all of our officers are pretty aggressive and are on the look out for drugs on routine traffic stops and routine calls for service,” said CPD Chief Stacey Cotton. Cotton said for many years his department bore the primary responsibility for educating Newton County’s fifth- and seventh-graders about the dangers of drug abuse through the D.A.R.E. program. But due to budget concerns and because of the fact that there is only one elementary school and one middle school within the city limits, the program was disbanded. “I hate it we had to close the program down because I think it was a good one. But, obviously, over the last few years, the budget has really tightened and we had to take a look at our services and prioritize,” the chief said, adding that the city had fully funded D.A.R.E. “We touched a generation in Newton County. There’s no doubt about that,” he said. “It was extremely successful here, but I have to be fiscally responsible to the city taxpayers and be as efficient as we can be.” The NCSO funds the CHAMPS program which also addresses the concerns among youngsters regarding illegal drug activity. They also are available for talks to the

Pills and pot seen most frequently among area teens BY ALENA PARKER Staff Reporter The Narcotics and Vice Unit at the Rockdale County Sheriff’s Office is a joint effort with local law enforcement and police to address drugs and other related criminal activity. A team of four RCSO deputies and two officers with the Conyers Police Department work in an undercover capacity to catch criminals, explained Capt. John Mumford with RCSO’s Criminal Investigations Division. Mumford said the investigators are on the streets using informants to purchase narcotics and do search warrants on suspected drug houses. The unit also breaks up illegal gambling, underage drinking, prostitution, “and other vices,” Mumford said. The unit started in 2001 in an effort to focus more on those activities. “It goes in periods,” Mumford said when asked about trends. “They go from subject to subject and location to location.” The captain said pills and marijuana use are most commonly seen among local teens and young adults. He finds that juveniles are not just using, but also active in selling the illegal drugs. “Pills are increasing. I think they’re easier to get,” Mumford said. “Marijuana has always been a problem,” Mumford added. Considering the economy, Mumford said it is hard to forecast the future of local drug activity and other related criminal activity. “I think it’s average with other counties in metroAtlanta. I don’t think we have an abundance of it,” Mumford said. “I think as the population grows, you always get more.” community, civic clubs, churches and other groups on the dangers of illegal drugs. School resource officers are stationed at each high school and middle school in the county to watch for drug activity, as well. Anyone who has concerns about drug activity, should call either the CPD or the NCSO. Call the CPD at 770786-7605. Or, tips can be

given to the CPD anonymously by visiting the Web site at and clicking on “Most Wanted” and then “Anonymous Tips.” Call the NCSO at 678625-1400. Tips can be given to the NCSO anonymously at 678-6255007 or through their Web site at and clicking on “anonymous tips.”

Celebrate Recovery helps families heal addiction’s wounds BY BETH SEXTON Staff Correspondent

holy-roller person. I got angry with God. I had tried everything in my power to change him. I was angry at God and angry at Brad. That’s why I spiraled. But that small glimpse of God’s miracle of what he was really doing in Brad’s life gave me the smallest amount of hope that our lives could be different.” They were separated for six months, began dating again and when they got back together that February, she took her last drink. She relapsed eight years later and began drinking wine, calling herself a “closet drinker” for two years, but when they began attending Eastridge

He took his first drink at 12. She was 15 when she took hers. When they met, he was a full-blown addict at 22 and she an alcoholic at 20. He introduced her to drugs. She just knew they liked to “party together.” She didn’t know he was a dealer and an addict until after they married. It was the total party life until their preschool daughter started telling folks about her parents’ habits at home, and the mother realized the lid was about to be blown off their lifestyle. The police were watching them and a sense of fear gripped their home. It was then that Renee Rutledge kicked out her husband. She had hit bottom in her marriage, but her drinking continued and she began a downward spiral as her husband Brad found the ladder up. Losing his family was the bottom rung for him. He moved back in with his parents, started going to church and praying for God to take away his addiction and give him back his family. “If I’d had a dollar to get a divorce, I would’ve done it,” Mrs. Rutledge said. “I was over it ... It’s ironic that as I Celebrate Recovery is a Christ-centered propushed him gram that addresses “hurts, habits and hangaway, that’s when I saw him ups” that lead to addiction. Celebrate Recovery turning into this offers programs for every member of the family.

Community Church in 1999, she, too, found sobriety and she and her husband both found their calling in life. Brad and Renee Rutledge began the first Celebrate Recovery program in Georgia in January 2001 at Eastridge Community Church in Covington. Today they are southeast regional directors for Celebrate Recovery (CR) and responsible for eight states as they work for the founder of CR, John Baker, of Saddleback Community Church in Orange County, Calif., where the program began 20 years ago. Pastor Rick Warren is the founder of Saddleback. Eastridge had bought the Celebrate Recovery curriculum four years before the Rutledge family joined the church and asked several other members to start up the program, but for one reason or another, no one ever got it started. When Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge were asked to get a CR program started, they all realized it was simply God’s timing. This October the couple will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary and this

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January, Mrs. Rutledge will celebrate 10 years of sobriety and Mr. Rutledge will celebrate 19 years. They see their life’s calling as helping other families through CR’s Christ-centered program that addresses “hurts, habits and hang-ups.” On any Thursday night, 150 to 200 people attend CRs programs at Eastridge Community Church. Entire families attend with large and small groups available for men, women, young people and children. “We have one of the largest (CR) ministries in the Southeast and one of the oldest,” Mrs. Rutledge said, adding that about one-third of the people attending CR struggle with addictions of all kinds, including food, sex, drugs and alcohol. “The addiction is just the symptom,” she added. “The root causes — the insecurities, the abuse, the abandonment issues ... make us want to run.” While parents attend CR programs, See CELEBRATE, Page 10

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Sheriff’s Office reaches out to area youth BY BARBARA KNOWLES News Editor The Newton County Sheriff’s Office receives numerous requests through its Community Outreach Unit to assist in educating youngsters on gangs, drugs and violence. “Requests are generated by community groups, schools, churches, business and group homes,” said Community Outreach Liaison Cpl. Anthony Washington. “In honoring these requests, the Sheriff’s Office provides literature and law enforcement personnel. The Sheriff’s Office’s goal is to create a positive image along with opening a direct line of communication with the public and our youths.” Washington said too often the public receives a negative impression of law enforcement and he gave the following example. “For instance, a request for service is initiated through 911. Upon arriving, our

‘The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is working collaboratively with the school board in educating our youth on the dangers of driving while impaired. Our goal is to make sure everyone uses good judgment when operating their vehicle.’ — Cpl. Anthony Washington

Washington said the department presently has two initiatives where they are concentrating their efforts. “The Newton County Sheriff’s Office is working collaboratively with the school board in educating our youth on the dangers of driving while impaired. Our goal is to make sure everyone uses good judgment when operating their vehicle,” he said. The second part of the initiative is a Community Health Awareness Forum that was held at Eastside High School. This program featured several outside agencies offering their expertise on youth violence and guest speakers from

the King Center and the Centers for Disease Control. Other programs sponsored by the NCSO include the Georgia Perimeter College Board of Education Gang Awareness Seminar, Alcovy High School Gang Awareness, Eastside High School Teen Summit, Issues Affecting Our Youth at Newton High School, the Gang Awareness Community Resource Fairs at Newton High School, Charter Academy and Woodlee’s Christian Academy. Anyone interested in scheduling a presentation should contact Washington at 678-625-1417.

deputies are often faced with a decision to arrest or cite an individual. This sometimes leads to the public having a negative image of the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. Through Community Outreach, the public is educated on crime prevention, youth and gang violence and other concerns that affect quality of life issues.

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The Covington Elks Lodge and Elkadettes recently sponsored an essay contest on drug awareness for all middle schools in Newton County. Shelby Kelly-Burnett, a seventh grade student at Clements Elementary School, won first place honors for her essay at the local, district and state levels, earning her awards of $25, $50 and $100 respectively. “The Covington Elks and Elkadettes are very proud of Shelby. Her entry has been placed in the Elks National Drug Awareness Essay Contest,” said Covington Drug Awareness Chairman Miriam Wheeler. The Covington Elks and Elkadettes are very involved with youth in Newton County in various programs including the Red Ribbon Campaign, the Hoop Shoot Contest, scholarships and drug awareness education. Shown here congratulating Kelly-Burnett are (l-r) Covington Elks Lodge Drug Awareness Chairman Jack Wheeler, Covington Elkadettes Drug Awareness Chairman Miriam Wheeler and Glenda Cordy, counselor at Clements Middle School.

Schools offer programs to keep kids off drugs BY MICHELLE FLOYD Staff Reporter Newton and Rockdale county public school systems continue to implement new programs in all grade levels to help keep their students off drugs and in school. Porterdale Police Sgt. Jason Cripps says getting to children early to make sure they know drugs are bad can help them throughout the rest of their lives. He and his certified narcotics dog Beau, a 5-year-old golden retriever, visit area elementary schools, civic groups, home schools and other student groups to talk about the dangers of drugs. “As soon as I get there, I make the kids yell, ‘No!” to drugs,” Cripps said. “And every time I get a tingling feeling.” He encourages students to get to know their school resource officers, who are found in the middle and high schools, or make friends with area officers. He said as a young boy, he would often spend time in a bowling alley and made friends with an off-duty police officer, who

helped him say “no” to drugs. “I never did drugs or smoked a cigarette, and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t want to put that in my body,” Cripps said. “I never wanted to go in handcuffs.” Now, he and Beau search out drugs in the community, which includes many sweeps of schools in Newton, Rockdale, Walton and Jasper counties. Some sweeps even lead to drug arrests, he said. “Mainly what we see in schools (in the area) is marijuana,” Cripps said. “We haven’t run into any big drugs.” He said DeKalb County and other metropolitan schools produce heavier drugs, mainly due to the lack in family values and the heavy population. In addition to providing school resources officers to middle and high schools, the Newton and Rockdale County Sheriff’s Offices also present a special program, Choosing Healthy Activities and Methods Promoting Safety, or C.H.A.M.P.S. The program targets fifth-grade stuSee SCHOOLS, Page 11

Porterdale Police Sgt. Jason Cripps and his narcotics dog Beau search area schools for drugs and also visit young children to speak about the dangers of illegal substances.

Rockdale/Newton Citizen MAY 16, 2010 • CRISIS • THE CITIZEN • PAGE 9

Juvenile Court sees aftermath of teen drug use BY ALENA PARKER Staff Reporter Rockdale County Juvenile Court Judge William Schneider explained his court and its associated programs are addressing juvenile crime, but the causes of the issue are thought to originate from a combination of factors and circumstances. “It’s the influence from society, married with the lack of supervision of the home,” Schneider said. “For the overwhelming majority of juveniles it comes back to supervision and involvement of a parent in not only the schooling, but recreation of a child.” With so many negative influences, Schneider explained today’s youths have so many more opportunities for delinquency and can “take (their) pick.” “I mean, society has a lot of options out there. You could do a lot of things,” Schneider said. Schneider confirmed drug use among

local juveniles continues to be an issue. “Most of the drug cases we have involve marijuana. And if there’s anything stronger than marijuana, be it cocaine or meth, those are in the minority,” Schneider said. Besides drugs, Schneider said the court also sees juveniles committing other crimes, like burglary, usually for the purpose of buying drugs. Schneider added that Juvenile Court does more than adjudicate. “The law does not allow us to punish. The law requires us to provide counseling and redirection so the children can join society in a law-abiding way,” Schneider said. The state considers sending delinquent youth to boot camp as a form of correction and redirection, not punishment, Schneider explained. Rockdale County Juvenile Court has jurisdiction over children 17 years old See JUVENILE, Page 11

Rockdale Juvenile Court Judge William Schneider says most drug cases in his court involve marijuana.

Celebrate: Helping hundreds of families overcome addiction Continued from Page 7 Celebration Station is specifically designed to help children learn to deal with life’s problems. Real Life is designed for middle and high school children. “We teach them how to overcome their struggles,” she said. “On any given night, a family is being taught the same principles of God’s way of overcoming the struggles.” Dealing with drug, alcohol and other issues affecting teens is especially important to Mr. and Mrs. Rutledge, both of whom serve on the board of the Drug-Free Community Coalition at Newton County Partnership. “We’re trying to figure out how to conquer the underage drinking,” she said. “We’ve done some studies. (Looking at those) and our own personal lives, a very common thread through all of this is a lack of parent involvement in their homes. It can be a dysfunctional home where parents are using, or it can be a high-end income and well-educated

home where parents are workaholics. The lack of parent involvement is the key thread for every kid who turns to alcohol. Parents are so wrapped up in their own stuff today, kids are existing ... (Lack of parent involvement) is the most common thing and then the sexual, emotional and verbal abuse would be a close second ... A gang and a group of addicts will always accept you.” Mrs. Rutledge said so many resources are now available to parents, such as CR, that might not have been available in the past. With Eastridge as the founding CR in Georgia, there are now 70 CRs throughout the state with four in Covington. Mrs. Rutledge said the goal is to have a total of seven in Covington so programs could be offered each night of the week, and to expand CRs in other nearby counties. Presently, CR programs are held in Newton County at The First Baptist Church of Covington on Mondays, Harvest Baptist Church on Tuesdays, Eastridge Community Church on Thurs-


days and Prospect United Methodist Church on Fridays. All programs have the same format beginning with a dinner at 6 p.m., followed by large and small group gatherings ending with a coffee fellowship time at 9 p.m. Eastridge offers 13 small groups and have what Mrs. Rutledge calls a “small army” of 33 people in leadership roles. Harvest Baptist Church has offered CR for more than two years and Pastor Richard Culpepper said it is a way to offer answers to people who are in need. “Watching our community and our culture, people’s lives are really falling apart and people are looking for answers,” he said. “We knew spiritually the answers to the problems come from God’s Word. It was a great fit for us to embrace a ministry that was already powerful across the world. It’s helped us as a church and in the community.” The pastor said part of the problem in today’s society, including its young people, is a “relative moral foundation that anything goes.” “Many young people are willing to

try anything once,” he added. “There are no moral boundaries. Sometimes it’s the breakdown of the home environment, but not always. It might be they are in a ‘stable’ family, but they’re not seeing the truth of God’s Word acting out in family life. The moral compass is off now and by the time they figure out what they’ve gotten into, they destroy their lives.” Anyone with addictions, as well as any other “hurt, habit or hang-up” is encouraged to attend a CR meeting. All programs are free of charge. For more information, visit the Web site To start a program in a local church, call Mrs. Rutledge at 770-786-2048, ext. 233. “For us, this is our purpose,” Mrs. Rutledge said of the work she and her husband do. “Everything we’ve ever done and been through, God is using it for His good, and we’re willing to be used by Him.”

Schools: Programs offer safety net Continued from Page 9 dents, teaching them about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drugs. It also addresses peer pressure, bullying and computer safety. “It is a well-rounded program,” said Newton County Sheriff Ezell Brown about the program. “C.H.A.M.P.S. instructors will offer fifth-graders interesting ways to deal with the growing number of problems and topics facing them each day.” It is developed by the Georgia Sheriff’s Association and replaces DARE. “We want to present it as a positive impression on fifth-graders in a way that they can relate to and take going into the sixth grade,” said RCSO Deputy Lisa Thompson during a program last year. Both Newton and Rockdale public school systems also recently installed tobacco free signs that were provided through a grant with the East Metro Health District. In exchange, the school system agreed to revise its tobacco policy, if necessary, to prohibit tobacco prod-

ucts of all kinds on school property, in school-owned vehicles and at any schoolsponsored activities or functions 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Other special programs and safety nets in area schools include local chapters of Students Against Destruct Decisions, or SADD, peer mediators and the implementation of mental health services, often provided through volunteers, interns or special grants. Area schools also recognize the national program Red Ribbon Week in October to raise awareness about drug prevention efforts, often bringing in special visitors and holding contests and special events for students. Some schools also provide special programs at the elementary and middle school level to teach students not to bully each other and to tell an adult if another student bullies them. Any Newton County group interested in having Cripps and Beau visit their students can contact him at

Juvenile: Court aids at-risk youths Continued from Page 10 and under who commit a moving traffic violation, are delinquent, ungovernable; and/or abused, neglected or otherwise deprived. The Juvenile Court works with other agencies and community groups, such as Court-Appointed Special Advocates, and Schneider specifically mentioned significant help from RCSO. “The Sheriff’s (Office) showed us that they’re interested in helping with the kids, as well,” Schneider said. The court also provides several programs, such as a community service program and teen court. However, the court is dealing with the effects of reduced funding. Schneider specifically pointed to

reduced funding to the Evening Reporting Center. ERC is a sort of alternative to juvenile detention where youths would go after school for homework help, counseling and other structured youth activities. County funds have provided the location and necessary utilities, according to Schneider, but there’s a shortage of funding needed to hire staff, so the center is currently closed. “When we had our Evening Reporting Center opened for folks who were at-risk, it completely turned those kids around,” Schneider said, pointing to higher school grades as an example. For more about Rockdale County Juvenile Court, call 770-278-7777.

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