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Woman works to help others with substance abuse after graduating from Bedford County program

Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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BEDFORD, Va. (WDBJ) - Inside the Bedford courthouse Friday was a graduation.

For Ashley Sweigart, it wasn’t just a graduation, but a celebration of getting her life back.

“I never would have thought that I would have been in this place, the place I’m in today,” said Sweigart.

Sweigart entered the Bedford Family Treatment Docket in 2019 after years of opioid abuse.

The program is one of only four family treatment dockets in the commonwealth designed to reunite parents with their children. To enter the program, children must be at risk of removal from the home or have been removed from the home.

Sweigart says she initially went into the program kicking and screaming.

“I was not the problem, everybody else was the problem and I just couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t just leave me alone,” said Sweigart.

But she knew something had to change.

“While I was there I had this realization that nobody else was the problem. I was my biggest problem, and if I wanted things to change in my life I was gonna have to change them,” said Sweigart.

She says she wanted to fight to get her son and her life back.

She credits the strength of that fight to Hope Brown.

“I knew that she had the potential to overcome her current situation and be a different Ashley, so that was my goal, to help her meet reunification with her son and have that behavior change,” said Brown, family service specialist.

After a successful detox, Sweigart was given her graduation certificate Friday.

The ceremony was delayed a year because of coronavirus, but she’s already helping others after her fight as a peer recovery coach.

“I’ve also been where all these people are, you know, so I can relate with them and understand that desperation, sometimes that denial, sometimes that guilt, sometimes that shame and all I can really do is be there to support them,” said Sweigart.

She’s the first from the program to become a coach and wants to help others who are walking the path she once took.

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