A new court focused on helping people overcome substance abuse is set to begin operating this week in the Lawrence area.

Douglas County plans to accept 15 participants who have been charged with a nonviolent felony and are having difficulty staying drug free to participate in the 16-month, four-stage program, the Lawrence Journal-World reports.

Shannon Bruegge, who will serve as the drug court’s probation officer, previously served as a probation officer for a similar drug court in Cass County, Missouri.

“It’s been the most rewarding for me to see entire families or an individual’s life change,” Bruegge said.  “We hope to help a lot of folks find a different way to live life and live at their fullest potential possible.”

Through the program, participants will follow an individualized treatment plan to address their addiction and then receive support to find jobs.  They’ll also be subject to random drug tests and meet with a probation officer.  The level of oversight will decrease as participants advance through the program.   Those who successfully complete the program would get their criminal charges dropped.

Copyright © 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.