Pubdate: Mon, 29 Dec 2003
Source: Mobile Register (AL)
Copyright: 2003 Mobile Register.
Author: Connie Baggett
Bookmark: (Methamphetamine)
Bookmark: (Drug Courts)


BREWTON -- Dianna Wiggins stood before the judge in her work uniform, 
smiling, eyes bright and confidence apparent.

She told the judge about moving into her own apartment with a roommate, a 
friend from her job at the Huddle House restaurant, and about promo tions 
she earned at work.

Wiggins had been clean and sober for nine months, the cravings for 
methamphetamine a manageable part of her recovery so far.

"I feel my independence growing," Wiggins told the Mobile Register. 
"Wednesday I'll get paid and I can catch up my treatment fees. I'm trying 
to stay on top of things, keep my bills paid. This program saved my life, 
and I'm going to make the most of it."

Wiggins, 34, was a married homemaker with a good life until her husband 
died seven years ago, leaving her a single mother with three children. 
Wiggins said she fell into de pression, then went "wild" and began a 
relationship with a man addicted to methamphetamine. They set up a lab to 
support the habit they soon shared. Before long, both were arrested.

When Wiggins got the chance to enter the Escambia County Drug Court 
program, she eagerly took it.

"It has been a miracle in our lives," said Lynn Hanks, Wiggins' mother. 
"Her children are so proud of her; she has worked so hard."

Wiggins said she draws inspiration from her children, and from others in 
the program who have been successful in putting their lives back together.

Just last month, six of the more than 50 people in the program graduated in 
an evening ceremony.

Selena Gibson, 33, thanked her family and her three daughters for support 
in her year-long journey through the program. Gibson was a nurse who became 
addicted to methamphetamine. She voluntarily surrendered her nursing 
license, but has a chance to be reinstated now that she is clean and sober.

"Looking back, I had the chance to stand trial for the drug charges. I had 
never had so much as a parking ticket before this," Gibson said. "by the 
grace of God I got into drug court and have a new life now. I wonder why I 
ever let my curiosity get the better of me when I first took meth. I never 
relapsed, but I had to struggle against the cravings. Several times I would 
give my car keys to a friend so I couldn't go looking for it."

"Addiction tore my life apart," Gibson told fellow participants in the 
program. "Determination and this program pulled it back together again. I 
know now that recovery will take the rest of my life."

Leroy Hayes, another graduate of the program, said he is just now realizing 
how far he has come, just the magnitude of the battle he fights against 
cocaine addiction.

"I'm a little nervous to be on my own," Hayes said. "I'm thankful for Judge 
Bradley Byrne and this program, for the grace and mercy shown. I'd be in 
prison or dead if I wasn't giv en this chance."

The graduates stood before the gathering of about 100 people and shook 
hands with their arresting officers before receiving their awards.

At the end of her time before the judge Dec. 5, Wiggins moved up to Phase 
III. She will attend drug treatment sessions only once a week, and will 
report to court once a month. If she stays on track, she could graduate in 
a few months.
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