(BEDFORD) - Two Bedford men participated in the 10th graduation for Lawrence County Drug Court.
Currently there are 20 participants in the Drug Court Program and two of those graduated Thursday morning.
Lawrence Superior Court II oversees and administers Drug Court, a program to offer those who have committed crimes with drugs and or alcohol involved - a second chance. The program is an intensive attempt to rehabilitate and reform offenders who have problems with addiction.
The men, who do not want to be identified, shared their experiences with the crowd.
"Both have worked very hard over the last 2 to 3 years to turn their lives around," says Superior Court II Judge William Sleeve, who oversees the program. "They have established employment, enrolled in higher education, assumed family responsibilities and are actively participating in recovery programs. They display attitudes that make them successful role models for other participants and members of the community."
The men have requested that they not be identified, because they have left their old lives behind. One 33-year-old Bedford man says he began the program in January of 2010, but was not at first successful.
"I started drinking when I was 15 and that is when I had my first encounter with law enforcement," he says.
Then in February 2011 the man who was taking a synthetic drug Ivory attempted to jump through a window. That was when he was arrested for resisting arrest, taken to the hospital and then placed in a padded jail.
"I entered the program on January 25, 2010 but didn't become sober until March of 2011," he added. "I was just unwilling to be honest with myself...frankly I was a liar. I am lucky to be alive and have no permanent brain damage."
He has since turned his life around thanks to Drug Court.
"They believed in me when I didn't believe in myself," he added. "I finally realized my purpose in life was my children. Today my family is strong. My wife and I work as a team and I live by the Drug Court motto - I show up, work hard, and I'm honest. Graduation is not the end of my journey."
The other graduate, a 32-year-old Bedford man used alcohol to overcome his fears.
"My alcoholism had me lost and trapped," he says. "Writing and playing music is my passion. Alcohol was a buffer for my fears. I always believed I was not good enough...I used alcohol to escape that fear and others."
In 2009 he was arrested again for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
"I told myself I would do better tomorrow," he added.
In 2009 he entered Drug Court.
"I was full of pride and did not want to surrender control," he says. "Then the AA slogan hit me 'All we have to change is everything'."
Then one day he took his prized shot glass collection and smashed them all.
"And with each one that I smashed I was smashing my pride," he says. "I was smashing the old me...for the first time in a long time I felt free."
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