Former drug addicts share survival stories at recovery program graduation

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VISTA, Calif. -- An alternative program in the North County is helping San Diegans immersed in a life of drugs to stay out of prison and find recovery.

“Today, I stand here 587 days sober,” said Brad Root, a former addict.

On Wednesday, Root, along with seven other people, graduated from the North County Center for Chang, otherwise known as Drug Court.

For years, Root was addicted to methamphetamines.

“I did 16 years incarceration, countless arrests. I lost my family, my marriage failed. It’s been a long haul, a long haul,” said Root.

It was a journey that began in February of 2016.

“My daughter was the deciding factor. She called me up after her 18th birthday and said, 'Dad where were you?' and I was at the casino doing drugs,” said Root.

The very next day, Root said he made the decision to change.

“I always knew it was wrong, but it was just the addiction. It was just too strong,” said Root.

That’s where Drug Court came in. The 18-month program teaches addicts the tools they need to find the road to sobriety.

“Here, you’re accounted for every step of the way. They monitor you, they track you and actually help guide you through recovery,” said Thang Nguyen, recovering addict.

“They expect you to bump your head, they expect you to make mistakes, but they just tell you perseverance will help you get through,” said Root.

Root persevered and he was able to turn his life around.

“I have a career now and my future looks bright. My daughter is now my best friend and I was able to rebuild my relationship with my mom before she passed away,” said Root. "It’s a hard program. Not too many people make it to the end.”

Standing on stage, Root said he could hardly believe he was one of the few to make it.

“I’m really excited to get this part of my life past me and step into the next aspect of my life now,” said Root.

Wednesday’s night graduation was the 60th of the 20-year program.

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