Friday, May 8, 2009
Phish Front Man Backs Drug Courts
Trey tells Congress about his addiction.
Trey Anastasio, lead guitarist and singer with the recently reunited rock band Phish, testified before Congress that drug courts may have saved his life. Without drug courts, he said, there might not have been a Phish reunion tour. Their lead guitarist might have been dead or in jail.
“My name is Trey Anastasio, and I’m a recovering alcoholic and a proud graduate of the Washington drug court program,” the musician testified, according to a Huffington Post report by Ryan Grim. “My life had become a catastrophe. I had no idea how to turn it around. My band had broken up. I had almost lost my family. My whole life had devolved into a disaster. I believe that the police officer who stopped me at three a.m. that morning saved my life.”
Anastasio, on behalf of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP), called for drug courts as an alternative to prison for every American in need. Participants in drug courts receive mandated addiction treatment and other services, while submitting to regular drug tests. Those who fail their drug tests spend time in prison. Moreover, participants appear regularly before a specially trained judge to access their progress. A system of rewards and sanctions, plus treatment, replaces a lengthy jail sentence and little hope for effective treatment while imprisoned.
In the past, while supporting the concept, Congress has made only meager sums available for the establishment of drug courts. “I would like every community in America to have the option of sentencing drug offenders to drug court,” Anastasio told members of Congress. “When we imprison people for minor drug offences, we waste money—and we waste lives. Prison will turn a person with a substance abuse problem into a lifetime felon.”
According to NADCP chief executive officer West Huddleston, “The scientific community has put drug courts under the microscope and concluded that drug courts significantly reduce drug abuse and crime and do so at less expense than any other justice strategy.”
Anastasio, who spend more than a year in drug court, told the congressional assembly that he had been sober for two and half years. “In August, my wife and I will celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary. My band is back together with a sold-out tour. And in September I’ll play a solo concert at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic.”
Photo Credit: WPT