Two years ago, Rick Glaze was facing a lengthy prison sentence.
His nearly lifetime use of drugs and alcohol had once again caught the attention of the law.
As the father of two young boys, he feared the thought of not being able to watch them play little league sports, see them through school, or teach them how to drive.
His life was in shambles and freedom outside of a state penitentiary cell was glim.
But a judge found a reason to give Glaze one last chance to curb his addictions through the Cass County Drug Court, one of the many services the Cass County Sheriff’s Office oversees to help addicts kick the underlying cause of many of their troubles.
After his parents divorced when he was 5, Glaze and his three siblings went to live with their dad.
“He raised the four of us as a single parent, put us through private, Christian schools, church every Sunday morning, Wednesday, and Sunday night,” he said.
But when his dad remarried, Glaze didn’t necessarily approve of the arrangement and the choices he was making began to take a downward spiral.
At 16, Glaze distinctly remembers beginning to rebel against his father.
“We got into an argument and he said that I had to either follow his rules or move out,” he said.
Glaze chose the latter option.
He left his father’s home in Olathe, Kan. to go live with his mother in Adrian that he hadn’t seen in years.
Trouble only followed with no rules or structure in place.
“She let me do whatever I want,” Glaze said.
Within months after the move, Glaze regularly began using meth, marijuana and alcohol.
He was cited his first “Driving Under the Influence” violation not long after.
“In the beginning it was cool and OK, because I was having fun and didn’t have many worries,” he said.
Glaze can’t remember at what point getting high and drunk was no longer a social occurrence, but rather a controlling stimulant.
“The whole atmosphere of it changed,” Glaze said. “It went from a weekend party to shrugging off my responsibilities and dropping out of school my sophomore year.”
He couldn’t hold down a job and matters grew worse.
“I then got into the criminal part of it – using drugs – selling drugs – making drugs,” Glaze said. “I didn’t really have any cares in life.”
Through the majority of his young adult life, he circulated the prisons on various offenses, and in January 2006, Glaze became a father himself.
“I told myself that this was going to be what it would take (to get clean),” he said.
Glaze’s promise to himself didn’t last long.
The day after his son was born, he left the hospital, went and got intoxicated, and ended up beating a guy up with a baseball bat. Glaze was arrested and taken to jail.
“At that point I knew (alcohol) really had a grip on me,” Glaze said.
Glaze then began using drugs to hide his feelings.
“I didn’t want the crappy feeling of not being a good dad,” he said.
Glaze followed the first three years of his son’s life through photographs as his life was in shambles.
He then conceived another son.
“I had left rehab with a girl that I thought I was in love with,” Glaze said. “We were out of rehab together for a week and were back to using heavy.”
Glaze knew drugs were controlling his life and wasn’t proud of who he had become.
With every opportunity to come clean, he would return to the old life with the same group of friends, and would start using again.
With the girl he had met from rehab, Glaze committed a burglary and theft.
He was sentenced and spent 120 days in a drug treatment program in the St. Joseph Department of Corrections prison.
Five hours after he was released, Glaze was back in handcuffs in Kansas for driving on a suspended license, being across the state line without permission, and having a gun in the vehicle.
“I went straight back to jail,” he said. “At that point, things were bad.”
Glaze received an 18-month sentence and was ordered to a one-year treatment program.
“The deal was if I successfully completed it, they would let me come back out on probation,” Glaze said.
Glaze completed the program and was clean for two months.
“Everything was going good but then I got bored and starting hanging out with the same people again and fell back into it,” Glaze said.
Then, a probation violation caught up with him.
Glaze’s probation officer was exhausted after giving him numerous unsuccessful attempts at inpatient programs.
“I was drinking as much as I was doing drugs,” he said.
By mid-2011, all indications appeared that Glaze would have to serve 6-12 years prison.
At this point in his life, Glaze had also met another woman he would later marry the following year.
“When we got together was when I first felt like maybe I had a chance at something worth keeping,” Glaze said.
Turning the page
When the probation violation came up in court, the Cass County Drug Court was mentioned by Glaze’s attorney as another possible recovery option.
His chances of getting in appeared slim due to his lengthy criminal history, but Glaze amazingly received permission.
“I just remembered that I started crying,” said Glaze, after receiving a phone call indicating his acceptance to the program.
To be eligible to participate, the defendant must be an individual that prosecutors and their judge believe can benefit from Drug Court on a lifelong basis.
Upon successful completion of the program, which is broken into four phases, normally lasts about 16 months.
Throughout the different phases, Drug Court participants develop a treatment plan, complete a 12-step program, undergo random drug testing, and regularly participate in court sessions and community service projects.
The participant must also pay fees to be in the program. If they screw up and and are put in jail, they also have to pay $65/day to cover the costs of being incarcerated.
Upon successful completion of the program and participate in a graduation ceremony, the defendant is cleared of the charges originally brought and is free to continue building his or her life free of the bonds of addiction.
Glaze started the program Oct. 21, 2011, and at first, it wasn’t very easy.
He had a few hiccups in the beginning, but worked through the issues.
Glaze eventually began to see positive changes in his life. He also became increasingly involved with Alcoholics Anonymous, which helped him curb his drinking habits.
Rebuilding trust was one of the more difficult tasks Glaze had to do in the program.
“That’s the worst thing about drugs and alcohol; I traded my integrity for drugs and alcohol,” he said. “I was a liar and a thief.”
After 22 months in the program, Glaze graduated from the drug court on July 24 with a clean slate and a new chance at life.
Throughout the drug court, Glaze had the opportunity to get his life in order. He is now content with a steady job, a house, a vehicle, and paying all of his bills each month.
He is also now happily married to a woman that came along his side and supported him through recovery, and is making happy memories with his sons and two stepchildren.
“People ask me how the treatment center and the prisons didn’t work. I think the reason they didn’t work was because I had all this support and structure when I was in the facility, and then when I left, there were the same people out here doing the same things, and the people weren’t there to help me,” Glaze said. “You go back to the same place, you’re going to get the same results.”
He said drug court is different, as it helps fight the issue right where the temptations and old friends led to the problems.
“You’re learning how to get your life together, live sober, and handle all this stuff, right in the middle of your community,” he said.
This week, Glaze, now 33, received recognition for two years of sobriety that was marked on Oct. 21.
“The opportunities that have come into my life today were from Drug Court,” he said. “You have to want to do it.”
Throughout the recovery process, Glaze found support through the Garden City Alcoholics Anonymous organization and through Cass County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
“I am truly blessed, and I honestly owe it all to Drug Court and Alcoholic Anonymous,” Glaze said. “When I burned up all my chances, they took that one last chance on me.”
He also credits his probation officer, Deputy Shannon Bruegge, for his success immensely.
Throughout his recovery, Glaze gained respect to Burgee and put aside his previous negative feelings about cops.
“It was more like having a big sister who understood the problem,” he said. “Once I realized that if I just followed the rules, life was easier and Drug Court was easier.”
Glaze understands that he is still in recovery, but has used his experiences to share light on destructive decisions by speaking on victim impact panels at Harrisonville High School and in the Raymore-Peculiar School District.
He also stays heavily involved with his church, Saved by Grace Fellowship, in Raymore.
“I’m one poor choice away from being right back to where I was,” he said.