Belmont County Common Pleas Judge Frank Fregiato has seen both tragedy and triumph in people battling opioid addictions.
He said each defendant deserves to be treated as an individual, some drug addicts begin with an injury, while others are simply career criminals.
"Unbelievable, 20, 25 or 30 prior convictions of different types of crimes," said Judge Fregiato. "Versus the individual who has the high school football injury or who has the car wreck in college who becomes addicted almost through no fault of his own or her own."
He said drug and alcohol addiction is the main cause of most crime.
"Family violence, the assaults, the burglaries, even the murders," the judge noted. "Then once you become addicted, in order to stop the nausea, the pain, the suffering, you need more money. And there comes the additional crime, the burglaries, the robberies."
He said if you could wipe out drug and alcohol addiction, you could wipe out more than 50% of all crime.
And he believes in early prevention, sharing the anti-drug message in elementary or even pre-school.
He said by the time people get to drug court, there are some jubilant triumphs but also some dismal failures.
"We are also having incarcerations, we are having multiple deaths, as every jurisdiction is having," he noted.
He said it ruins lives, and not just for the addicted person.
"His or her entire family is affected," said Judge Fregiato. "His or her parents, grandparents, children. And I can't believe how many women are pregnant and so obviously the infant is going to be immediately affected. Employment status. Social status. Whatever you think of, it's negatively impacted by drug use."
The judge believes if children learned the dangers early in life, later when they were offered drugs, they wouldn't even consider it "because the idea would be so foreign and so disgusting."