WESTAMPTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (WTXF) - If you asked her 25 years ago, Carmen Brown could not have imagined standing in front of the latest graduates of Burlington County's drug court, delivering the keynote address.
She's come a long way since 1993 when she got hooked on heroin.
"I started out once a day and once my body got used to it, I needed it twice a day and it got worse and worse," said Brown.
In 1999, now a new grandmother, Brown kicked the heroin habit, stayed clean for a while, and then tried powdered cocaine.
Soon she was buying, using, and selling. All until she was caught in 2010.
"I was raided and found myself facing a lot of jail time, prison time because of being in and out of trouble with drugs before," said Brown.
Just like these folks, Brown made a deal to avoid prison. She entered drug court.
It was tough. Narcotics anonymous meetings, regular monitoring, court appearances and urine tests.
The folks who run the program look out over this 25th graduating class and know the odds they've beaten, the struggles that lie ahead and the satisfaction that comes with beating addiction.
"They got their lives together through drug court but they saved their families at the same time. So you are all here to honor that," said Judge Jeanne Covert the acting assignment judge.
"I am very proud. I can't even explain how I feel," said Brown.
Brown has now been drug-free for more than 5 years.
Her message to the latest graduates?
The folks at drug court see your victory as their victory.
"They'll get you through it if you really want it, they really do," she said.