South

Dedham

Drug program helps turn young lives around

Thirteen young people graduated from the Dedham Juvenile Court’s sobriety program with diplomas and messages of hope that they will stay away from the substance abuse that had once derailed them.

Probation officer Teresa Plante, who runs “Clean, Healthy, and Motivated Person,” an eight-week diversion program youths attend when caught with drugs in lieu of a school suspension, says the drugs found on the offenders run the gamut from alcohol to marijuana to opioids.

In some cases, the Norfolk district attorney’s office or probation officers will send the offenders to the program “so they are able to keep their records clean,” she said. Attendees meet once a week, for an hour, with group discussions and recreational activities led by a social worker.

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“We talk about how drugs interfere with our relationships, triggers that might appear in the future and how to solve them, and setting goals,” said Plante.

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The program has graduated 47 people since its first class in spring 2014. Plante said only eight of the 47 have been rearrested on drug charges.

“In the end, we’re doing this so young people can be educated and make better choices before it’s too late,” she said.

Jonathan Ng can be reached at Jonathan.Ng@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanNgBOS.