With substance abuse being a growing problem in the country, 10 graduates from the drug court or drug treatment alternative to prison programs are beating the odds.
Ten Pima County residents graduated from Drug Court or the Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) programs on Wednesday.
Its a day Linda Newell thought would never come.
I was in active addiction for about 10 years, said Newell.
Hearing her name called out, shes accomplished more than a year of sobriety.
I work in recovery and so Im able to pay it forward and I help other people find their way into sobriety also, said Newell.
Alongside Newell is Jocelyne Leyva.
It feels amazing, Leyva said.
Leyva spent 14 years living out on the streets after her mom died when she was 13 years old.
I was out on the streets using drugs for about 14 years and I ended up catching a state case which brought me to probation, but they gave me the chance to do drug court which is a little different than regular probation, said Leyva.
Clapping for these graduates are their families and friends but also their peers who are still in Drug Court or Drug Treatment programs.
Its the hardest thing I ever had to do in my life, said one graduate.
Newell said its the programs approach that turned her life around.
They are pushing a shift in the paradigm on drug addiction being a mental health issue and not just a criminal justice issue, said Newell.
Leyvas advice to those sitting in the audience or who have not yet taken the first step towards recovery is to look for the light at the end of the tunnel.
It can feel like youre suffocating and that youre going to die like that, but its just not true. As long as you have hope and you believe theres a way out, youll make it, said Leyva.