Graduate of Allegheny County Drug Court opens up about successes from the program

ALLEGHENY COUNTY, Pa. — For Adam Lyons, his graduation certificate means a fresh start.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this,” Lyons said. “This is one of my biggest achievements.”

The 34-year-old just graduated from Allegheny County Drug Court on Monday, Sept. 18. Lyons has been clean for more than two years after struggling with addiction to painkillers, heroin and crack cocaine for the better half of a decade.

“Drug court, 100%...it’s a saving grace,” Lyons said.

Lyons said he landed in drug court after getting into a serious head-on crash while driving high. Instead of going to prison, he was given a second chance by following a rigorous schedule in drug court for two years.

“It’s a tight leash,” Lyons said.

Lyons was on house arrest for a year, had to check in with a judge monthly, take random drug tests, and even had a curfew. He largely credits his probation officer and treatment counselor for sticking with it.

“All the trouble I’d been in, all the drug history I had, there was no judgment to that,” Lyons said. “He actually listened to me like I was a person.”

The program was started by Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala in 1999. Zappala said drug court has a 90% success rate.

“Struggling with addiction and mental health does not make you a criminal,” said DA Zappala. “For the past 24 years, our program has given hundreds of people a second chance to put their lives back on track.”

Lyons said he wouldn’t be where he is today without drug court and his strong support system, which, in addition to the drug court team, included his family and boss.

“Adam before drug court was living in the moment, but always the wrong moments. I didn’t care about anybody,” he said. “I didn’t have anything. I was a waste of space. Adam now, I have a lot to live for.”

A lot to live for and a lot more to accomplish.

“This is just the beginning,” said Lyons. “I promised my mom on her deathbed that she didn’t have to worry about me anymore. This was a step to showing her that.”

Through the drug court treatment program, Lyons said he was able to reconnect with his family, buy a house, and keep working his two jobs. He’s now in the process of starting up his own contracting business.

The next graduation will take place in December.

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