HOLMES COUNTY - By time Holmes County native Courtney Blanton was 27 years old, she had suffered from an 11-year addiction to drugs and alcohol.
"My addiction took me to a very dark place in my life," Blanton said. "I became homeless toward the end of my addiction. The last three years, I was in and out of hotel rooms from state to state, and I had begun intravenously using drugs."
It wasn’t until her second arrest that Blanton decided to reach out for help. After spending a month in the Holmes County Jail on felony drug charges, Blanton requested a chance for recovery at The Refuge Ranch, a public charity in Okeechobee that offers faith-based recovery and transition for women.
Now two years sober, Blanton says her life was so drastically changed by her arrest and subsequent entry into the program that she chose to remain at the ranch and is teaching classes to other women in recovery.
"It is so good to know that there is an effort to ensure recovery is an option for those willing to seek it," Blanton said. "My arrest truly saved my life."
Blanton’s story was like so many heard Thursday night at the Faith in Recovery, an event geared at bringing law enforcement and the community together to build a recovery-oriented system of care.
In addition to guest speakers, vendors were on hand at the Holmes County Ag Center to educate families and those seeking recovery on available resources.
The event was sponsored by Holmes County Sheriff’s Office and Department of Children and Families in partnership with Jackson and Washington County Sheriff’s Offices.
Holmes County Sheriff John Tate spoke to those in attendance, stating that recovery is an important tool in the war on drugs and the preservation of families.
"Nearly everyone knows someone battling addiction," Sheriff Tate said. "As law enforcement officers, we do arrest those who sell drugs, but the key component of helping facilitate a strong system of support and recovery for those trying to overcome addiction cannot be overlooked. It is important that we send a strong message that while we are tough on those who sell this poison, we are also here to help find recovery options for those seeking to overcome addiction."
The guest speaker was Tallahassee Police Officer Sean Wyman, who, at just 10 years old, became so fed up with repeated beatings and other daily abuses from his drug-dealer step-father that he picked up a gun lying on his parents’ bedroom floor and nearly shot his stepfather as he slept.
Instead, Wyman ran away from home, beginning a 30-year cycle of foster homes and abuses of his own that lasted throughout his time of service as an Army Ranger and in his early years as a Tallahassee Police Officer.
Then one day, Wyman realized he needed to stop running and took back his life. Today, Wyman seeks to inspire others to recover from addiction and other self-destructive behavior. As a law enforcement officer and trainer of 18 years, army veteran, father of three, and husband of 14 years, Sean shares his story and the lessons learned with the purpose of helping others.