New Richmond man shares his story of how drug court turned his life aroundArea News
-- Matt Krumm, a native New Richmond, Wis. resident, was arrested for driving under the influence in 2009.
By: Gretta Stark , Pierce County Herald
Matt Krumm, a native New Richmond, Wis. resident, was arrested for driving under the influence in 2009. It was his third DUI and Krumm said it gave him a second chance at life.
Because he was on probation at the time, he was taken to jail. He said the three months he spent there awaiting trial gave him time to think about his life.
“I didn’t want to be in jail anymore and I didn’t know what I was going to do to prevent that,” the 29-year-old said. “Thinking back on it, it’s like ‘Well, every time I’ve been in jail before, it’s been drinking or getting caught with drugs, so maybe it’s about time for a change.’”
So, when he was offered a chance to try drug court, Krumm said he applied for it.
The St. Croix County Drug Court program began in 2005 as a way to help deal with a growing number of methamphetamine users being arrested, said Judge Edward Vlack, who presides over drug court proceedings. The hope was that the drug court would be able to prevent people convicted of drug use from becoming repeat offenders.
Krumm enrolled in the program in November of 2009, while he was still in jail. One of the first things the drug court program required Krumm to do was to write an autobiography.
“You had to write down the good, bad and the ugly,” Krumm said. “As I was writing it down, I was like ‘wow’, looking back it…I was so fogged and just not in the right state of mind. It was hard for me to realize it until drug court showed me.”
Krumm said he started using marijuana when he was about 14 or 15 years old because “everyone was doing it.”
He said he felt like an outsider in high school, but by smoking marijuana, he was able to belong to a group.
Marijuana was a gateway drug for Krumm; he soon began using other drugs--methamphetamines, “mushrooms,” and LSD.
“Pretty much anything I could easily get my hands on at the time,” Krumm said. “I was a daily user. Every day I used … skipping school, not getting any good grades or nothing like that. I dropped out of all the sports I was playing. It just got worse from there.”
At 17, Krumm said he began selling marijuana to support his drug habit. Krum said he was selling marijuana at New Richmond High School. He ended up in New Richmond’s alternative school because of the toll his drug use had taken on his grades, he said.
When he was 18 or 19, Krumm said he was caught with drug paraphernalia and spent a night in jail. His downward spiral continued from there.
“I was doing more drugs than I was drinking at the time and just making horrible decisions,” Krumm said.
He began using cocaine frequently when he was about 20.
By that time, Krumm said drugs were both running and ruining his life, but he didn’t stop using them. Instead, he began “burning bridges” with friends and family when they tried to help him.
He said he began selling cocaine and other drugs as well as using meth heavily by this point. The heavy drug use made him paranoid and unable to sleep. Then, Krumm said, he fell off his four-wheeler and broke his collarbone and began using OxyContin. When that was no longer enough for him, he said he began doing heroin. He was about 22 or 23 at the time and he was a daily intravenous drug user.
“If I didn’t have it, I’d be sick,” Krumm said. “I didn’t know where to go for help. I didn’t know what to do. All I knew was I had to keep getting more, otherwise I’d be sick.”
Krumm said he was out of control when he received the DUI in 2009.
That was when Krumm said his using ended and his time in drug court began.
It was the autobiography, Krumm said, that made him realize how difficult his behavior had made life for his family.
“I was the last person to know how it affected them. I didn’t realize how many people I affected while I was using,” Krumm said. “My dad told me… ‘I was about ready to just put a tombstone in the back yard and put your name on it and just wait for you to tip over.’”
Krumm said drug court’s lessons in responsibility, accountability and honesty helped him turn his life around, but it wasn’t easy.
“It just keeps sucking you in and pulling you in,” Krumm said of his addiction. “It’s almost like there was a hole inside of me and I was trying to fill it up with something, but it would never fill up no matter how much I kept throwing at it.”
The drug court program was very demanding, with weekly visits to drug court, random drug tests and mandatory Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings. But Krumm said it has made him a better person.
“I’ve started a lot of things but didn’t finish them,” Krumm said. “But I knew this was one I had to finish.”
Although completing drug court has allowed Krumm’s felony charges to be expunged, Krumm said trying to live down his reputation has been a challenge.
“It’s hard to gain the trust of the people that see your name in the paper all the time,” Krumm said. “I had to prove it with my actions. That’s the only way to gain trust in people.”
Krumm said he isn’t sure of his future career plans but he is very grateful for his time in drug court.
“I’m attending a welding program at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. I have an open relationship with my mom and dad, all my siblings. I’m dependable,” Krumm said. “I wouldn’t have what I have today if I didn’t go through all that.”