TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - It was a genuine moment of joy and shock for Barbara Jaquez when she looked up at the projector screen inside the auditorium.
She glanced up at the life she once lived, seeing the mugshot documenting the jailed journey.
"It didn't hit me until I was back there putting this on," Jaquez said, pointing at her cap and gown. "It's been a while since I've been in a cap and gown. But this has so much more meaning to it."
She was dressed for success among her 18 graduates, all celebrating the completion of either Drug Court or the DTAP (Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison) program through the Pima County Superior Court and the Pima County Attorney's Office.
If this was their high point and climax of their sobriety, the celebration inside the Berger Performing Arts Center on Speedway Boulevard near I-10, each can remember the low point.
"I just let it get a hold of me. It took me down a really horrible path," Jaquez said about her addiction to pills. "It was the most despair I've ever had. You want to quit so bad but you don't know how to. You fight and fight and fight. Yet, you just don't know how to reach out for that help."
She told Tucson News Now she was addicted to pills. Her 'rock bottom' point came in July 2017 after she was arrested and spent three months in the Pima County Jail.
It meant she was unable to be with her now 10-year-old son and her boyfriend. Both came to the auditorium Wednesday night, sitting front row center, to congratulate her.
"I needed that help. I needed that motivating factor. I knew I could do it, but I couldn't do it alone," she said. "A lot of us addicts, we think that we can quit and we can do this on our own. But we can't. We need that help. We need that push. We need that support. Once you get your head in that right frame of mind, you're okay. You can do this."
Wednesday night was the culmination of everything, Drug Court Coordinator Cynthia Duhon said.
In a news release, Pima County Superior Court officials said that since 2007, more than 400 participants have successfully graduated from the Drug Court program. A minimum one-year commitment, Drug Court is a collaboration between the Superior Court and various treatment providers in the community.
"Research consistently proves that drug courts and drug treatment systems work. Drug courts connect participants with treatment and help them remain in treatment long enough to be successful. They are cost-effective, reduce recidivism, and engage the client in their own journey back to health by undertaking the issue causing the criminal activity: the drug and alcohol addiction. Clients are provided solutions and a passport to a new way of life," the news release stated.
"We preach that to them that this isn't the end. This is just the beginning. The journey, the rest of their destination, is going to be up to them," Duhon explained. "But it's a lifestyle change for them. This is what they'll carry with them for the rest of their life."
A life that is now fully up to Jaquez - proud of how far she's come and where she's going.
"Look what it's done. I've got my family back. I've got a beautiful life now. I've got a job. I've been clean over a year now. Going back in nursing. I have a great life ahead of me."