ERROL CASTENS: ‘A new beginning’ isn’t only for addicts

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Sat in on the graduation at Drug Court in Oxford the other day. It would take the inattention of a rock to miss all the references to “new beginning,” “second chance” and the like.
Addicts have seen what the bottom looks like: It’s as though they’re in a car, but a madman’s driving, and they’re helpless to stop him even as he runs into and over everything they’ve ever cared about – career, family, academic achievement, money, even faith.
Addiction makes people do things their sober selves could never have imagined – anything from selling drugs to stealing from family members and strangers to abandoning or abusing their own children. Some have sold their bodies to pay for their next fix.
There’s a trail of broken promises, betrayals, shame and blame.
In Drug Court, most have been all those places and more. Every participant has been convicted of a felony and is facing hard time in the Big House.
Mississippi State Supreme Court Associate Justice Ann Lamar said of addicts’ lives, “It has gotten to the point that they’ve lost all hope in the future or all hope of ever breaking the cycle of addiction, all hope of ever having a stable home life and a job and security like so many people have.”
Drug Court is, as was often noted, “a new beginning,” “a second chance,” “a renewed hope,” “a new life” for those broken enough to embrace it.
It gives participants a chance to change, to accept help, to be restored. At graduation, they’re even presented with a medallion as a reminder of what they’ve overcome.
The Apostle Paul described Christianity a lot like that.
Out-of-control lives: “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
Guilt: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God … “ (Romans 3:23)
Inability to save ourselves: “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24-25)
Dependence on undeserved mercy: “ … and are justified by his grace as a gift …” (Romans 3:24)
Finally, honor for overcoming: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
Recipients of the Drug Court’s mercy proclaimed several times at their graduation ceremony how they want to devote their lives to showing other addicts a better way.
We who are recipients of God’s grace have an even deeper obligation to show other sinners the Way.
Contact Daily Journal Oxford Bureau reporter Errol Castens at

Click video to hear audio