Many on the right side of the law have, for decades, considered drug abuse to be a form of misbehavior.
This trip down the wrong side of propriety, society has believed, can be handled in no other manner than a stiff prison sentence and complete ostracization from society. Many still laugh at the idea that addiction is a disease. It is simply a behavior that must either be corrected, or punished, they believe.
Those days are fading, and they are fading as quickly as our national prosperity.
Stories like the one this week that emerged from Cass Countys innovative Drug Court program are changing that way of thinking, one person at a time.
Corey Kinney lost both his parents as a teen. He suffered from a staggering lack of mentorship and direction in his younger years. As a result, and not surprisingly, he ended up slave to an addiction that seemed impossible to break. Every thought seemed geared towards making the frustration of a difficult life fade into the background. And through chemical means, that was possible.
But there was a strength of character hidden far beneath the surface that a group of heroes identified and cultivated. Over a period of many months, through perseverence and sleepless nights and with the support of an entire community - business leaders, court officials, treatment experts, friends and family - Kinney broke that pattern.
As Presiding Circuit Judge Jacqueline Cook pointed out during Kinneys Drug Court graduation ceremony this week, a five to 15 year prison sentence with a tab of $15,000 per year, charged to Missouri taxpayers, became a 16-month treatment and training journey that cost the same taxpayers just $4,000 to $5,000 - total.
And in fact, Drug Court participants pay a significant portion of that tab through productive employment in the local community.
Perhaps most importantly, a life has been saved. And the life that was saved has the potential to affect multiple other lives in a domino effect that will ripple throughout the community.
As Americas prosperity of the 1990s fades further and further into history, it seems unavoidable that stories such as Kinneys will become more commonplace.
It is our sincere hope that programs such as this will continue to save at least a percentage of our brothers and sisters.