750 days

Drug Treatment Court graduate has come a long way

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Michelle Ely is all smiles Friday morning during her graduation from the Drug Court Program. Ely has 750 days clean and sober.

Michelle Ely, the latest participant in the Webster County Drug Treatment Court program to graduate, has come a long way since she stood in front of District Court Judge Thomas Bice in March 2017.

“I was facing a 10-year prison sentence,” she said.

Bice didn’t send her to prison. Instead, he sent her to the Drug Court program.

He stopped in to congratulate her Friday as she officially graduated.

“I’m proud of her,” he said. “This is the result we hope for.”

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Drug Court Program graduate Michelle Ely, at left, gets a big hug from her friend, Karen Danielson, after her graduation from the program Friday morning.

Ely’s life has changed considerably.

“I have a beautiful home, I have a driver’s license, I have a car, I pay my bills,” she said.

She also has a position with the YWCA as a tech and child care worker.

“I’m helping others find success,” she said.

She stays active in her own recovery.

“I’ve got 750 days clean and sober today,” she said. “I feel like Drug Court saved my life.”

Ely shared a short story she wrote called “Dear Addiction.”

“Addiction, you’re a liar, a thief and a cruel master,” she read.

Her story not only tells of what addiction cost her, but it also talked about what she’s gained since being clean.

“Without you addiction,” she said. “I’m doing things I’ve never thought were possible. I have people that I love and I know they love me back.”

Webster County Attorney Darren Driscoll is among those who help administer the program.

He had a big smile on his face as he watched and listened to Ely share her story.

“You’re amazing,” he said. “I’ve seen you grow so much. I think you’ll continue to do great things.”

Chief District Court Judge Kurt Wilke presides over Drug Court.

He, too, was smiling.

“I’m glad the program was worthwhile for you,” he said. “Because you are worthwhile to us. It’s stories like yours that keep us going.”

Ely didn’t start out her life with the intention of becoming an addict.

Her problems began after she was prescribed medication and got addicted to it.

“I lost my job,” she said. “That began a 10 year spiral of pot, pills and anything that would numb my mood.”

While her story might start out with a trip through hell, it ends with peace and serenity and a stable life.

“This is a story with a good ending,” she said.