QUINCY -- Matthew Raleigh made it clear. The Adams County Drug Court program saved his life.
Standing in a packed courtroom Thursday in the Adams County Courthouse without prepared remarks, Raleigh described hitting rock bottom.
"I had been in counseling and therapy, and after six months, I had a relapse on meth and alcohol, which very nearly cost me my life," he said. "I almost lost my legs. I did lose a good portion of my feet due to frostbite."
Raleigh described how a police officer found him "frozen in the woods."
"If it hadn't been for him that day, I would not be here for sure," he said.
Clean for 683 days, Raleigh, 45, described 32 years of addiction and how the support of everybody involved with Drug Court helped him stay clean.
"We have a disease for which there is no known cure, but because of programs like this, there is hope for us to lead a normal life," he said. "As you can see, it takes a village to bring us to the reality that we are worth saving."
Raleigh was one of three people to graduate from Adams County Drug Court during a ceremony at the courthouse, bringing the graduate total to 93 since the program accepted its first participant in 2006. An intense form of probation, Drug Court requires frequent drug testing, hundreds of hours of drug and alcohol treatment, and hundreds of hours of self-help meetings. There are 18 people now in the Drug Court program.
Alexandra Clifton, 21, started using methamphetamine at age 13, and after 888 days clean, she is now a Drug Court graduate. She had given up on her future and admitted she was lost in her life.
"Until two years ago when I was sentenced to Drug Court, I found out that I was pregnant at the time, and I was confused," Clifton said in a tearful statement Thursday. "I didn't know what I wanted in life, but the one thing I knew was, I didn't want my daughter to be anything like me.
"So I left toxic relationships, started attending meetings and found a higher power, and accepted God's will for me that I was an addict."
Ryan Waters, 31, noted how his life has changed after 601 days of sobriety. It had become chaotic after 15 years of addiction.
"I didn't have a job, a driver's license or any good standing relationship with pretty much anyone I came in contact with," Waters said. "Over the past 19 months, so many things have changed for me and my life today. I can honestly say that I have a good relationship with my parents, a job, a bank account.
"I can drive myself to and from work. I have a beautiful, loving supportive girlfriend, two cats, a dog and a house we call home."
Judge Debra Wellborn, who oversees Drug Court, noted the abundance of drug cases she has seen in just two years on the bench.
"People have gone to prison on drug charges, they've been released, and sadly they are back in the criminal justice system before me again," Wellborn said. "Drug Court program is our hope and endeavor to break that cycle to give each person the tools they need to become productive members of society and supportive and nurturing members in their families."