The struggle with addiction can be a debilitating one.
One of the most challenging parts of fighting the disease is going it alone. With support, those struggling with substance abuse have a better chance of coming out ahead of their addiction.
On Wednesday, Judge Nancy L. Butts presided over a graduation ceremony recognizing three women who have proven they are more than their disease, completing the Lycoming County Treatment Court program.
Judge Nancy L. Butts presented the three Lycoming County Treatment Court graduates with certificates for completing the court treatment program. Above, Elicia McQuown receives her program certificate from the judge.
Samantha Eiswerth, Shannon Singer and Elicia McQuown were recognized in front of a group of counselors, family members and peers after completing the program.
Butts read leaders of commendation for each before presenting them with a certificate.
The women had a chance to share their testimony with the group.
Eiswerth said that she had struggled through the program for a long time and initially was very resistant to changing her ways.
"I thought this was the way I was supposed to be," she said.
After being sent to a rehabilitation program for six months, she found herself able to commit to staying sober. The support she received through the program helped her to change and grow. She's now able to be a committed mother to her child.
"This is who I am now, and I am grateful for it," she said.
Singer also had a tough time when starting the program. She said before starting the program she was like "a prickled cactus" and she didn't want to let others in. After going through treatment court, she realized the severity of her situation.
"I appreciate people saying, 'You know what, you're killing yourself.' And I was killing myself for a long time," she said. "You don't realize how much you saved me from me."
Singer now is working full time, taking college courses and caring for her daughter.
The program led to McQuown to help others going through the same struggles she experienced. She now acts as a sponsor for others dealing with addiction, but it took her a while to get to that point.
"I didn't think I needed a sponsor. I didn't think I needed the steps," she said. "Then I relapsed."
McQuown said she was thankful for the court putting her in the program and that it helped her realize it was time to grow up and seek help.
In addition to becoming a sponsor, she's also helped start an equestrian team at Pennsylvania College of Technology.
The court also recognized six current members of the program moving on to the next phase.
Following the recognitions, Ryan Watson and Jessica DeParasis, two members of the program, presented West Branch Drug and Alcohol Abuse Commission with a check for $1,026, funds they raised during the Drive for Recovery golf outing that the two planned.
The two agreed that the program was something they'd like to continue to support and hope to make the golf outing an annual event.
"We wouldn't be here today if it weren't for West Branch," DeParasis said.