Drug Court changes woman’s life
by Shaka S. Lias
Dec 28, 2010 | 3741 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jessica Tinsley reads her graduation speech.
Jessica Tinsley reads her graduation speech. SPECIAL
Like most young girls Jessica Tinsley had lots of hopes and dreams.

"But they were buried under getting high," Tinsley said.

Tinsley, 39, said she spent the last 10 years of her life addicted to drugs, in particular methamphetamine.

"My life revolved around partying and getting high, if I didn't feel good I'd put drugs in my body," said Tinsley.

Tinsley said those days are behind her now. On Dec. 10, she was among the seven graduates to complete the qualifications of the Cherokee Circuit Drug Court. Tinsley joined the programs two years ago and has been clean and sober for 484 days as of today.

Tinsley admits the road to recovery wasn't an easy one. She said when she first joined the program she lived in Gordon County and kept relapsing. She said part of the reason was because she was still around the same people and environment. "I was in and out of jail, trying to fake drug court," Tinsley said.

Tinsley said she had lost respect for herself and was tired of her kids looking at her through a glass in jail.

"Every promise I made them I broke. I was tired and didn't want to waste my life anymore," she said.

It wasn't until she relocated to Bartow County that she got her act together. Tinsley said when she first came to Bartow she lived in a homeless shelter, but it was better than sitting in jail.

Now she's in her own home and working.

She said it's the little things she appreciates, such as having her bills in her name.

"Life is good," said Tinsley who inspires to be a journalist and will start Georgia Highlands College in March.

Tinsley said her kids are now adults and they have an awesome relationship.

"They believe in me now," she said.

Melissa Knight, coordinator for the drug court program, said Tinsley is just one success story of the 33 graduates they have had since the program started in July 2008.

Knight said there are 111 people in the program and one of the largest drug court programs in Georgia. It benefits residents living in Bartow and Gordon counties.

Knight said the program is strictly for drug users who cannot get off drugs. Participants cannot have a violent criminal history or an intent to distribute drugs.

She said they get referrals from the District Attorney office, public defender office and even participants themselves.

She said a criminal history is ran to see if they are eligible, then they fill out applications. They also are given an evaluation with a treatment staff.

A student in drug court must be in a minimum of 18 months and complete six months after care once they graduate.

Tinsley said it was one of the best decisions she made. She advises anyone going through a drug problem never to give up.

"If you don't see immediate results don't give up. Results will get there," she said.

For more information on the Cherokee Circuit Drug Court call Melissa Knight at 770-606-5751.