CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Six people are celebrating their recent recovery journey from substance abuse and graduating from the Kanawha County Adult Drug Court.

Kanawha County Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey presided over the drug court graduation Thursday during a ceremony in the historic Kanawha County Courthouse.

Amanda Taylor, Jamey Gillenwater, Raven Ratliff, Carroll Kirby, and Jaimie Logan were presented with their certificates of graduation after spending an 18-month stint in the program along with various rehabilitation and recovery programs in practice of a sober life.

Bailey said all of the graduates Thursday were brought to the program out of the justice system as non-violent offenders, but were driven to criminal activity due to their addictions.

She said they were given the opportunity to work on themselves towards recovery rather than be incarcerated, and they have made a complete commitment to change their lives.

“Most of them have been here almost two years, participating in the program and learning about sobriety, learning about recovery, learning to accept support,” said Bailey.

All of the graduates told their addiction and recovery stories at the podium before receiving their certificates.

One of them, Amanda Taylor, said she had been in addiction since she was 15 years old and had been in trouble many times with the law.

However, she said she is grateful for a new beginning.

“I’m very proud of myself, I’ve come a long way, and it’s just really exciting to start my new life,” said Taylor.

Taylor said in order to complete the 18- month-long drug court program and graduate, clients must start by going to court once a week for the first out of three phases. She said they then take classes, work with sponsors, attend recovery programs, and receive support from other recovery community members.

Taylor said she’s now putting the past behind her and giving herself a fresh start.

“This was a new beginning to straighten everything out, I have completed a long-term rehab, and I’m now getting to reunite with my children again,” she said.

She said she also completed the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous during her time in the program.

Taylor said she has been working at Charleston Area Medical Center and plans to go back to school.

She encourages others who are on the recovery journey to keep pushing through and not give up, and to always reach out for help when they need it.

“You can’t do it alone, and there’s a lot of people out here with great stories, motivation to help you, anybody I’ve ever met in recovery is willing to lend a helping hand,” said Taylor. “Just take it one day at a time, get rid of all your junk and start a new life.”

Judge Bailey has been presiding over Kanawha County Drug Court since its inception in March of 2009 as the eighth county to start the program in the state.

She said those who work on the drug court assess the clients when they enter the program and then through rehabilitation and intense monitoring, the clients return to the community as drug-free, productive citizens.

Bailey said despite some challenges, they have managed to graduate numerous people within the program and its been very successful.

“You know, like many things we had some setbacks during Covid and we are still sort of coming through a regrouping of that, because this is a program based on accountability and actually seeing people and working with people,” she said.

Bailey said they generally graduate between five to eight people a couple times a year.