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Recovery drug court holds graduation ceremony

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WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - Washington County, Tennessee Recovery Drug Court graduated two participants Friday in an emotional ceremony.

Recovery courts are intensive rehabilitation programs for people with drug addictions. Tennessee has them across the state.

Janessa Mitchell was one of the graduates. In early 2016, she was addicted to drugs, and she had given up her children to their paternal grandparents.

"I was homeless," Mitchell said. "I didn't have nothing for me. I was just in a very dark place."

In May 2016, Mitchell decided to apply for Washington County, Tennessee's drug recovery court while she was in jail. Program Director Megan Price asked her why she wanted to join.

"I said "because I have a drug problem, and I need help,'" Mitchell said. "I needed this program."

Mitchell said the road to graduation was difficult.

"I didn't know how intense it was until I finally joined," Mitchell said. "It was a lot. You have to go to NA and AA meetings every day. You have probation four times a week."

Mitchell said she has been clean for 531 days as of her graduation. She has her three children back now, as well as a job and a place to live. Her friends came to support her at the graduation.

"I'm an ex-addict myself," friend Jacob Morgan said. "So I do understand how much moral support can really help you through addiction."

Court officials said they are proud of the graduates.

"To see people who have worked so hard - come so far - that, to me, is worth every ounce of stress or hours that we put in," Price said.

Washington County Recovery Court officials said about 30 percent of their participants graduate.

Currently, they have 23 people in the program. Graduates get checkups at three months, six months and then every year. According to officials, about 90 percent of graduates stay clean after the program.

Data from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services show 1,682 people were admitted to Tennessee recovery courts in the last fiscal year. Statewide, about 544,000 people abuse alcohol or drugs.

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