Geoffrey Fortin took his first drink of alcohol at the age of 9. By the age of 12, he had progressed to marijuana and pills.

Fortin tells his story of addiction, not with shame, but with a purpose because he’s in a good place now.

Fortin will join 15 other Jackson County Drug Court participants next Tuesday evening, Nov. 23, in graduating the program at First Baptist Church in Scottsboro, beginning at 6 p.m.

Fortin, 29, talks about how his life spiraled out of control. In 2009, he was involved in a car accident that cost him a leg. By 2010, he had discovered methamphetamine.

“It was cheaper and lasted longer,” he said. “It numbed the pain. I fell in the wrong crowd.”

In and out of jail, and drug treatment centers, Fortin pleaded into Drug Court on Sept. 21, 2018. It wasn’t easy, he remembers. Circuit Judge John Graham, who presides over Drug Court, issued lot of sanctions to Fortin, which resulted in jail time.

“I should have been kicked out,” said Fortin. “They saw the good in me.”

Fortin attended a drug rehab in Opelika, where he graduated in 2020. He says he sought God, which has led to a blessing.

Graham, who has said Drug Court has been the most rewarding experience of his life, said those graduating Tuesday have worked very hard to change and improve their lives, as well as the lives of their families, friends and communities.

“When one person takes the road to recovery, lots of others benefit, too,” said Graham. “Kids get their parents back, employers get good, clean workers and the community gets responsible, tax-paying citizens.”

Drug Court allows non-violent drug offenders to go through an 18-month program that includes intense supervision and drug testing. It’s a post-conviction, voluntary program. If completed successfully, a person’s charges are dropped.

“Drug Court saves lives, reunites families, keeps kids out of foster care, saves thousands of tax-payer dollars, promotes public safety and makes better communities,” said Graham. “All above and beyond, the immediate and obvious benefit of saving just one life from addiction.”

Fortin will graduate Tuesday but says he doesn’t want to leave the program.

“Without them and God, I don’t know where I would be,” he said, adding he plans to come back and help those pleading into Drug Court.

Those graduating Tuesday, in addition to Fortin, include Randall Akin, Kristi Baine, Lydia Brewer, Joseph Buffington, Nancy Glenn, Shacota Hill, James Jabaley, Terry Knowles, Cody McAllister, Stephanie Monk, Michael Rafferty, James Sherrell, Jarrett Smith, Christopher Eric Steeley and Billy Williams.

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