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Former heroin addict thanks Drug Court program for saving his life

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- The heroin epidemic claimed more than 30 lives over the course of a week in Central Virginia, now a former addict wants to share his story, on how a local drug program saved his life.

Matt's story begins like many others, pain killers.

"High school was more or less just the typical stuff," he said.

During his senior year in high school, the now 33-year-old Chesterfield man broke his hand and his doctor started prescribing him pain killers.

Matt in high school

Matt in high school

"I realized that I liked them pretty quickly, and that was kind of that," said Matt.

His habit soon became costly and he said he started doing things he was ashamed of. What started off as an addiction to pain pills eventually turned into an addiction to heroin.

"Over the course of time, it ended up taking control of me and my life," he said.

While using drugs, Matt came close to death, overdosing several times, and even going through different recovery programs. His addiction was not just hurting himself, but also his family.

Matt

Matt

"I used to wake up every morning and just dread and say can he just stay alive one more day, one more day," said Matt's mother, Sheree Hardin.

In 2012, Matt was arrested for possession of heroin. It was that arrest that led him to a program that he said changed his life.

In order to stay out of jail, Matt agreed to enter into the Chesterfield and Colonial Heights Drug Court Program.

"I figured I wanted to have my charges dismissed, I didn't want a felony on my record," he said.

Adult Drug Court in Chesterfield started back in 2000. Drug Court Administrator, Melanie Meadows said the program is for non-violent offenders, charged with a felony drug related charge.

Matt

Matt

They enter the program under a plea agreement to stay out of jail.

"With these clients, they are drug screened several times a week," said Meadows. "They are receiving individual counseling, group counseling, depending on if there's any particular traumas they have experienced."

Matt said this program didn't just teach him how to stay clean, but how to become a better person.

However, he admits it wasn't easy.

heroindeaths

CBS 6 Reporter Chelsea Rarrick asked what Matt thought it was about the program that saved his life, rather than other programs he may have tried beforehand.

"The structure," answered Matt, "It's the structure, you have to fill out a schedule that gives you an outline of your day, you have to work a minimum of 30 hours a week."

Matt was part of the program for over two years and graduated in February.

"They let someone hit the gavel to dismiss your charges and my mom had been there for the entire process," he said. "She got the opportunity to hit the gavel and I realized I was starting a new chapter in my life."

Matt's mother, Sheree Hardin

Matt's mother, Sheree Hardin

Matt and his mother know that this program may not work for everyone, but instead of focusing on the deaths from heroin and other drugs, they want members of the community to focus on the treatment and programs out there, like Drug Court.

All it takes is one program to change someone's life around, like it did for Matt.

"I have a great life," said Matt. "I have a life that I never would have imagined I would be able to achieve when I was in an active addiction."