Jackson County Drug Court Graduates First Class - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Jackson County Drug Court Graduates First Class

At one time, not too long ago, Rex Cunningham had it all.

This 41 year old college graduate was a publisher for Internet websites and magazines in Alabama, making nearly 80 thousand dollars a year. But success didn't last long.

"I was pretty much homeless, penniless, unemployable. Pretty much everyday, it was not when I was going to get high, but how I was going to get high," says Cunningham.

His addiction to oxycontin and crack cocaine spiraled out of control, and after spending almost a year in Parchman, he decided to at least try to make a change.

"I guess the biggest change was I got sick and tired of being sick and tired," says Cunningham.

And being tired of that lifestyle has paid off not only for Cunningham, but for 12 other South Mississippians who decided to make a change and stick to it.

They graduated Friday afternoon from the Jackson County Drug Court, the first class in the county.

"Basically, it's a way to help people get off drugs without having to go through the penitentiary, and I'm one of those people who when I come to work in the morning, I like for what I do to work. And sending people to the penitentiary didn't work because most of the time, as soon as they got back out, they got back in their old life, the old drug life, and it was just a matter of time before they came back before me," says senior Circuit Court Kathy King Jackson.

All of the participants had felony charges against them before going to drug court.

Now, after a two year program, they are simply striving to be good citizens, and that includes being drug free.

And even Rex is looking forward to starting a new life with his new daughter, and he offers advice for anyone who is currently struggling with drugs.

"Pray. Ask for help. Go to any means necessary to get the help that you need. Don't be afraid to say I'm an addict," says Cunningham.

Mississippi has 16 active drug court programs, including ones in George and Greene counties.  

By Karla Redditte

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