Monday began a new chapter for four Hamilton County men who have struggled with addiction. It's a challenge that led them to the county's drug court program. 

The idea is to provide an alternative sentencing system to help people break their addictions and the cycle of re-offending.

It was a big day for 26-year-old Cody Loan because he's now a Hamilton County drug court graduate. He was presented his diploma by Criminal Court Judge Tom Greenholtz on Monday.

"Most people by now they have a career, a house, kids. This is just the like the beginning for me," Loan said.

For 15 months, he's worked to break his addiction to opiates. Loan said it took hard work, dedication, honesty, and being open minded to get to graduation day.

His mother became emotional as she took in the moment.

"This is my world and honest to God, I didn't think either one of us would live to see this day, but we're both here and I'm so proud of him," Tessa Vaughn, Loan's mother said.

Vaughn has stuck by his side during this journey. She said it wasn't always easy, but believes it was worth it.

"Relief, happiness. Very overwhelming. It's been a long, hard road. I knew he could do it. He just needed to know he could do it," Vaughn said.

Judge Greenholtz called Loan a model participant that others have looked up to during his time in the program. Loan shared some advice for those working toward graduation.

"Don't give up," Loan said.

He and his classmates said they plan to use the lessons they've learned from the program in every day life.

"He wants to go to the top. I want to see him get married, have kids, and he can do that now," Vaughn said.

The requirements to complete drug court include:

  • Engage in substance abuse counseling.
  • Attend frequent court sessions.
  • Meet with Drug Court staff.
  • Submit to random urinalysis and/or hair screenings.
  • Attend 12 step meetings.
  • Obtain and maintain contact with a same sex sponsor
  • Obtain employment and/or attend school.
  • Obtain your high school diploma or GED.
  • Submit your self, residence and car to search.
  • Pay your restitution, child support and court fines.

In many cases, the program is used as an alternative to jail time.