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'I don't work it, I live it': Program champions recovery for Auburn drug treatment court participants

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Drug court

Marty Rindfleisch knows firsthand what it means to live with an addiction.

He worked as a counselor at Confidential Help for Alcohol & Drugs Inc. for 17 years and has been sober for the last 20 years.

Now, Rindfleisch hopes to share his knowledge and experience with others through the recently created Auburn Drug and Treatment Court mentor and alumni programs. The Auburn Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court is a court-supervised treatment program for people who face criminal charges and who also have a drug or alcohol addiction, according its website.

Rindfleisch was approached by Carol Colvin, treatment court coordinator, because she felt he would be a good fit for the position given his experience. He said treatment courts have found that mentor programs have been helping excel some of its participants toward successfully completing their program.

"I don't work it, I live it," he said. "I have a 24-hour day, seven day a week job." 

The mentor program is funded through a three-year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that was awarded in September 2014 and implemented in April 2015. Partnership for Results hosts the grant. 

The program currently has two mentors — Rindfleisch and Marguerite Ringwood. Rindfleisch said they are looking to train more mentors for the program. 

"The mentor program is designed to be a bridge in the gap between treatment, the court system and recovery," he said. 

All of the participants in the misdemeanor treatment court, felony treatment court, diversion program or alternative treatment court have the opportunity to meet with either of the mentors on a regular basis. 

Rindfleisch said he meets with people every week, some twice a week depending on their needs and where they are in the program. When Rindfleisch meets with someone, he said he sets goals with them and helps them find what recovery process is going to work best. 

"Because I am 20 years clean and I attend a lot of meetings in town, I see it. I see people that have come in, gone to school, changed their lives and I think that's kind of the process we are trying to start," he said. 

Rindfleisch also oversees a drug treatment court alumni program, Life Works of Cayuga County Staying Connected, which started in May of last year. The program is also funded by the SAMHSA grant.

The group hosts events for its members and the community throughout the year. Last year they planted a community garden at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Auburn, hosted a ziti and chili dinner, baked cookies for first responders and those in the community who have helped the group continue and grow, as well as a year-long can and bottle drive at the Frosted Nickel in Auburn.

"We can be a good example and show people that there is a life after the usage," he said. 

The alumni group has a monthly meeting every second Tuesday of the month at 5 p.m. at the Redeemer Lutheran Church. 

"One of the things that we try to promote is that we're not bad people trying to get good. We're sick people trying to get well," Rindfleisch said. 

Staff writer Jordyn Reiland can be reached at (315) 282-2282 or jordyn.reiland@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @JordynReiland.

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