When the state decided to cut drug treatment courts in counties across North Carolina, Mecklenburg County put it on their payroll. The program which began in 1995 offers repeat drug offenders a chance to start over and get clean.
WBTV was there for graduation day, as more then a dozen participants suited up in long black gowns and walked into the courtroom to "pomp and circumstance".
Most of the graduates didn't want to be on camera, but there was one who wanted the world to know how far she's come.
"I was addicted to drugs, crack cocaine, marijuana and it caused me to act out in various ways," Gevone Goss said.
Goss says she was first introduced to drugs when she was six years old. For years she struggled with addiction which led to arrest after arrest.
"That's all I knew," she said.
Goss' story was a common one in the courtroom.
"I came in kicking and screaming. I didn't think I needed it. But I'm thankful for it," one graduate said.
Drug Treatment Court is an effort to stop the cycle. When a repeat offender agrees to take part in the program, they're committing to months and months of rehab, counseling and drug tests. The entire process can take 12 to 24 months.
"You got to learn how to ask for help and allow help to help you. If you don't allow help to help you then you won't be helped," she said.
Not everyone makes it through the program, but with 382 substance free days under her belt, Goss accepted her certificate in front of her family and friends.
"I remember when I was out there using, I was a hot mess. My life was so very unmanageable," she said.
Goss has tried and failed at beating her addiction in the past, but this time she's done it for herself.
"I couldn't do this for my kids because I've tried that in the past and I wasn't successful. I stayed clean for a short period of time and today, I am blessed," she said.
A certificate and a handshake doesn't mean their battle to beat addiction is over. Many will fight to stay clean for the rest of their lives, but this graduation ceremony is certainly a way to start.
"This has been a beautiful process for me. Because I know who Gevone is today and I know what Gevone wants and without this program I don't think I could have found it," Goss said.