Drug Treatment Court holds first graduation ceremony

Last week Dalene Ritchey became the first graduate of the Forsyth County Adult Drug Treatment Court. The program is funded by Phoenix Rising and the City of Winston-Salem.

Drug Treatment Court holds first graduation ceremony
December 26
05:00 2019

In 2017, thanks to the collaborative efforts of a local non-profit called Phoenix Rising and the City of Winston-Salem, Drug Treatment Court returned to Forsyth County and last week the program held its first graduation ceremony. 

Forsyth County Adult Drug Treatment Court is a supervised probationary program that provides a comprehensive treatment to address the needs of defendants interested in getting help for their addiction. Throughout the program, which uses a team approach to help fight addiction, participants are tested several times a week and progress is rewarded with incentives. 

Before making its triumphant return in 2017, the county had been without a drug treatment program for six years. The original program ended in 2011 after state funding was cut. 

Attorney Kerri Sigler, founder and president of Phoenix Rising, said the primary mission of the organization is to make sure the Drug Treatment Court remains an option for those who need it. Phoenix Rising raised $35,000 to bring the adult treatment court back to Forsyth County and the city contributed an additional $35,000. Sigler said, “One of the things that really inspired me to restart a drug treatment court was how many people got addicted because they were given a legitimate prescription for a legitimate problem.”

Sigler said she felt it was fundamentally wrong and at the time Forsyth County didn’t have anything to address the problem. 

“At the time we didn’t have a sentencing option to adequately address that,” Sigler continued. “It was sorta like I order you to go get better. So it feels really good to see people get back on their feet, rediscover their self-worth, rediscover who they are, and contribute and live a normal life.” 

During the graduation ceremony held inside the Forsyth County Courthouse on Friday, Dec. 20, Presiding Judge Lawrence J. Fine applauded the Drug Treatment Court team for their hard work and congratulated Dalene Ritchey for completing the program. Others including Sigler, Curtis Graham, who is the treatment provider and coordinator for the program, and City Councilmember James Taylor, who is publisher of The Chronicle, congratulated Ritchey on her accomplishments as well. Forsyth County Commissioner Fleming El Amin and participants in the treatment court were also on hand for the graduation ceremony. 

After receiving a framed copy of her certificate of completion, Ritchey held back tears as she thanked the Drug Treatment Court for giving her a second chance and helping her find herself. 

“It’s been a long, hard ride but I’ve learned so much about myself, my family, about my addiction and what I actually want out of life,” Ritchey said. “I couldn’t have done this without each and every person involved with this program. You have all helped me realize that I am worth the fight, and that I have value and purpose in this world.” 

Along with helping finance the Drug Treatment Court, Phoenix Rising also facilitates treatment and raises awareness on addiction and drug abuse. For more information visit

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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