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Five Graduate Lawrence County Drug Court
Updated February 19, 2015 11:12 AM
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(BEDFORD) - Five individuals have taken steps to turn their lives around while battling drug and alcohol addiction.

Tomi Hignite, Gary Kenyon, Timmy Norman, Matthew Kelley and Neal Andrews all graduated Lawrence County Drug Court Thursday morning.

Lawrence Superior Court II Judge William Sleva and his team oversees and administers Drug Court, a program which offers those who have committed crimes with drugs and or alcohol - a second chance. The program is an intensive attempt to rehabilitate and reform offenders who have problems with addiction.

These individuals are all now "clean and sober" says Judge Sleva as he introduced them Thursday morning.

"The apron strings have been cut and you are ready to start a new life," he said to them. "After 2.5 to 3 years of being in this program we now believe in you and that you can face life on your own. Your continued success will be based on your choices... it is time to push you out the door."

Andrews says the program altered his life. He had spent 22 years of his life using alcohol and drugs.

"My addictions prevented me from living up to my potential," he added.

Andrews has been sober for 2 years, 7 months and 20 days.

"The 12-step program has become a routine, a way of life," he says. "I have become the father, son, friend and employee I need to be."

Hignite has been an addict since the age of 12.

"At 12 I drank every chance I could," she added. "By 13 I was doing drugs. At 17 I was smoking marijuana, by 19 I was doing meth and prescription pills. The next 13 years was filled with heroin, spice, weed, alcohol, pills and meth - I was a slave to them all."

But in 2013 she was arrested for meth, put in jail and went through withdraws from all the substances she had snorted, smoked, ingested or shot into her body.

But Drug Court official Jim Crane believed in Hignite.

"We bumped heads, yelled and screamed at each other, but he never gave up on me," She added. "With his help I was able to break my denial and I surrendered."

Norman entered Drug Court after his 3rd alcohol-related charge.

"I had drove thousands of miles under the influence," he added. "I thought I was a functioning alcoholic - I was in denial. I was a few months from losing my home, I was maxed out."

Norman learned he had to be honest with himself.

"It was up to me," he added. "I had to be honest with myself. Patience, honest and more patience became my motto."

Keynon says anyone can become an addict.

"Addiction can trap anyone," He added.

Keynon began drinking at 16 after attending a friend's birthday party. By 18 he was drinking and smoking marijuana daily. Then after several back surgeries he became addicted to pain pills.

"I began to do anything to get the drugs," he added. "I was writing bad checks, stealing from my family and friends."

In August 2012, Keynon was on house arrests and after a surprise search of his home and officials finding pills he was back in jail for possession of a controlled substance

"I had lost the trust and faith of my family," he says. "The love of those I held dear."

The programs stripped down Keynon.

"Showed up, work hard and be honest. This program rebuilds you to be a productive member of society. I surrendered early and things began to click and I began clearing the wreckage from my past. My life is forever changed. Most importantly you (the program) saved my life."

Kelley was arrested in 2009 but didn't get accepted into Drug Court.

Kelley says he wanted to stop, but didn't want to surrender. Drug Court rejected him.

In August 2012 he was arrested again and was facing yet another DUI and now a charge of being a habitual traffic offender.

"This time I was ready," he admitted.

And was accepted into Drug Court.

"I learned what it was like to be sober," he added. "It took a power greater than myself to restore my sanity."

With his sobriety Kelley was able to gain sole custody of his daughter Rose Marie, who ran into her father's arms during his graduation speech.

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