Talk Sober Live: An Innovative Judge and a Defendant Turned Recovery Specialist

In a new All Sober roundtable discussion, the two joined All Sober EVP Maeve O'Neill and journalist Kathleen Koch for a frank conversation about stigma, sentencing and Suboxone

September 7, 2022

“Those of us who work in the field know that the recovery stories are much more exciting” than lurid addiction stories, said Maeve O’Neill, EVP of addiction and recovery at All Sober, on the Sept. 7 episode of the Talk Sober interview series. The featured guests on Wednesday had lived some of those stories: Six years ago, Allison Schild found herself in drug court, having lost custody of her infant daughter. Opposite her, on the bench, sat Judge Jeri Beth Cohen, a longtime proponent of therapeutic, responsive processing for drug crimes.

Today, Schild works as a peer support services manager for Thriving Mind, a Florida mental health provider network, while Cohen, now retired, continues to advocate for a science-based approach to processing those charged with drug crimes. The two met again during National Recovery Month in a Zoom discussion with O’Neill and journalist-author Kathleen Koch, for the very first episode of All Sober’s Talk Sober Facebook Live series.

When we recognize that no one wants addiction and that compassion is key to treatment, said O’Neill, “we can look at it through the lens of educating — what is addiction, what does it look like, how to it prevent it, how to intervene earlier, how to have the family informed of what they can do to support change. Any punitive, stigmatizing, negative judgment doesn’t help at all.” Judgment, of course, was Judge Cohen’s job — but she decided decades ago she’d try new approaches for drug infractions, and has since become a leader in new ways of thinking about addiction and the legal system.

Watch this thought-provoking conversation about Schild’s own journey through the court and treatment process; the evolving ways in which drug courts are employing residential and medication-assisted treatment, as well as family involvement; the challenges and stigmas that treatment-minded legal professionals still face in processing drug court defendants; and much, much more. And be sure to follow All Sober on Facebook. We have more exciting live discussions coming up!

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