By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Thirty-four adults celebrated recovery on Friday as Hennepin County Drug Court recognized them during a graduation ceremony.

The drug court program aims to break the cycle of chemical dependency and crime for nonviolent offenders.

Lindsay Arf has been sober for three years and two months – almost as long as she was in the Hennepin County Drug Court program.

“The only way to get sober was to go through treatment and get help,” Arf said.

Arf battled drug addiction for 12 years. After she got arrested, she knew something had to change.

“My charge had nothing to do with drugs, but I asked for it and they gave it to me because I would not have gotten that charge if I wasn’t high,” Arf said.

Now, she works for a nonprofit helping women get out of sex trafficking, and she’s also a public speaker. She learned to share her story in the program.

“It’s emotional to get through, a lot of crying, a lot of stuff happens in your life. Real life happens, and you have to deal with it sober, and that’s something foreign to somebody that’s been high for 12 years,” Arf said.

Ray Perttu is also graduating after battling addiction for almost two years.

“It is extremely important for myself because it kept me out of prison, it kept a lot of people out of prison – where prisons aren’t necessarily going to feed the underlying issue, which is curing the substance addiction,” Perttu said.

Perttu is now studying to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, hoping to use his experience to help others.

“A lot of people that I know that are addicts and users are not bad people, they just made bad choices,” Perttu said.

“I started out a really good kid in a great family, addiction can happen to anybody at any economic situation,” Arf added.

The drug court program takes more than a year to complete.

John Lauritsen