SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – It was graduation day at the Minnehaha County Courthouse for five people who altogether completed more than two thousand days of sobriety.
Increased stress and an inability to go to treatment in person throughout the COVID-19 pandemic made it harder for individuals who struggle with substance abuse. But Thursday, five people showed their strength in the road to recovery.
“These graduates had to go through more than any other graduates that we’ve had,” Judge Pat Riepel said. “In the last year, when the pandemic started, all their in-person programming went via Zoom or via telephone. So they lost that one-on-one facial connection, group connection that they normally would have.”
Cassie Grant is one of those graduates.
“I’ve been sober 724 days,” Grant said.
Grant has been in the five-phase drug court program since March of 2019.
“When I first entered drug court, I was really lost,” Grant said. “I had a lot of felony warrants out for me. I was high off of opiates. Looking back, I probably thought I was going to go to prison for, you know, a good 10-15 years.”
When she entered drug court, Grant says she didn’t have a relationship with her four kids. But now, she says they are stronger than ever.
“What’s next? Continue everyday with the sober life style,” Grant said. “Be there for my children. My son turns 18, like I said, next month and he’ll graduate this following school year. So just be able to be there and watch him. And then to be there for my other children and guide them and, you know, try to help them along their way and make sure that they don’t make the same mistakes that I did.”
“It is nice to see people who really want to change, be able to do so with a lot of work and their commitment,” Riepel said.
Grant dedicated her drug court graduation to her cousin Jordin, who lost her life last year to a drug overdose. Grant says she fights for her sobriety everyday for her cousin.