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Muscogee County Adult Drug Court celebrates 10 years of changing lives

MUSCOGEE COUNTY, Ga. -- It was an emotional Friday morning at the Columbus government center's plaza where the Muscogee County Adult Drug Court celebrated its 10th anniversary.

The drug court program gives inmates facing drug charges another chance -- in exchange for pleading guilty, they get free treatment and counseling to fight their addictions.

Many adult drug court gradates came to celebrate what the program did for them. Several say they would not have made it if the drug court had not stepped in.

"If it weren't for them, I could very possibly be dead right now," says graduate Erin Vigil.

Erin tells News 3's Mikhaela Singleton she suffered from addiction for 15 years. She credits everything she has now to the drug court's help.

"I have been able to obtain a job, I got my kids back, I have a house, a car. Drug court saves lives," she says.

Christi Burdeshaw says after graduating from the program, she stayed sober, got married, and had amazing children. None of which could have happened if she had stayed on drugs.

"I get to wake up every morning without having to get a pill to get through the day. I get to wake up with my children and take them to school and do normal things that a mother gets to do," she says.

The Muscogee County Adult Drug Court also hopes to keep growing. The court recently received a $957,000 federal grant to tackle the national opioid crisis head on. The money helped the program hire more personnel, assist participants with housing, and expand their treatment options.

Earlier this year, the court applied for a second grant to distribute an opioid blocking drug, Narcan, to all first responder vehicles. Although the request was denied, the court's presiding Superior Court judge, Frank Jordan, Jr., says the program will continue to push forward with their efforts.

"It's going to take a concerted effort, by drug courts, by other funding sources to meet that addiction head on," Judge Jordan says.

He adds the drug court program is the only one of its kind in the six surrounding counties. Right now, Muscogee County can only afford to take in participants who have transportation and can get to local treatment options.

Judge Jordan says if they get another grant, members will be able to pay for transportation to bring counselors and treatment to the surrounding areas.

Sadly, Judge Jordan will not be a judge much longer. The 10th anniversary celebration was also a form of farewell to Jordan who will retire at the end of the year.

However, he says the drug court has been his passion ever since he helped found it in 2007. He plans to continue to visit and help out wherever he can.

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