Trey Anastasio Says Drug Courts Saved His Life

In 2006, Trey Anastasio, the lead singer of Phish, was arrested for driving under the influence and for possessing a bottle of the opiate pills.

Sentenced to 14 months of addiction treatment in a Washington County drug court as an alternative to a prison sentence, Anastasio spent a lot of time in mandated therapy and public service -- and now, two-and-a-half years sober, he says the experience saved his life.

According to a May 7 Huffington Post article by Ryan Grim, Anastasio made his comments while in Washington D.C. at a party celebrating the 20th anniversary of U.S. drug courts. The party was attended by drug court professionals and some members of Congress.

A Celebration of Drug Court Successes

In addition to the 20-year milestone, those who attended the event a lot to feel festive about. For example, U.S. President Barack Obama looks set to double drug court funding to $118 million dollars for 2010.

Highlights of drug court effectiveness include the following:

  • Seventy-five percent of drug court graduates stay out of jail for more than two years after graduation, a significant improvement over to the 60 to 80 percent recidivism rate of inmates who are released from conventional correctional programs.
  • In 2007, the total cost of jailing the more than two million inmates in U.S. prisons totaled over $60 billion. More than half of the U.S. inmate population is comprised of people who were incarcerated for non-violent drug offenses.
  • States that initiate treatment instead of prison programs save money. California estimates that every dollar it spends on drug treatment for non-violent offenders saves seven dollars down the road. Other states have found similar cost savings with mandated treatment programs.

Grim reported that Anastasio told the crowd at the alcohol-free party that his life had "become a catastrophe" prior to his arrest. "I had no idea how to turn it around," the Phish frontman said. "My band had broken up. I had almost lost my family. My whole life had devolved into a disaster."

Now, as a successful drug court graduate with more than two years of sobriety, Anastasio's circumstances are much more positive, he said. "My children are happy," he said. "In August, my wife and I will celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. My band is back together with a sold-out tour. And in September I'll play a solo concert at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic."

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