Drug Court Graduate Credits Daughters For Recovery Motivation

Jul 29, 2019, 8:07 PM | Updated: 11:44 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A man who spent five years as a drug addict is celebrating a major turn-around, after graduating from the Salt Lake County Drug Court.

Three years ago, Chad Nielson was running a puppy scam to fuel his drug habit. After drug rehabilitation and drug court, he’s now clean and focused on building his relationship with his young daughters.

“It’s just the beginning for me too,” said Nielson. “It’s the beginning of a new life. It’s the beginning of a lot of pride, and a lot of accomplishment that has only just begun.”

As a heroin addict, Nielson got comfortable with instability, poor health, and crime.

“I was doing criminal activity, and everything else,” he said. “Running around on the streets, using drugs. I was down at Rio Grande for the longest time before they did the sweep down there.”

He started using marijuana at age 11, and moved on to hard drugs at 18.

When he was in the throes of addiction less than three years ago, he had moved on to heroin and crack cocaine.

Nielson was in and out of jail until relatives finally steered him towards drug rehabilitation.

“Once I chose sobriety, there is no looking back, and coming this far is epic,” he said.

He credited his family, drug court, and his rehabilitation program for helping him find his path to sobriety.

Nielson graduated from drug court Monday along with 13 other people.

Six county drug courts, including one exclusively for military veterans, allow offenders to stay out of jail, but require extended supervision and treatment.

Nielson said he was committed to sobriety for a couple of reasons.

“The biggest thing was when my daughters called me when I was in jail,” he said.

They had a heart-wrenching conversation on his youngest daughter‘s birthday several years ago. The girls were worried about their dad.

“My oldest daughter told me, ‘No matter what you’ve got to do to be sober. Be away from us, just don’t kill yourself,’” he said. “That was a defining moment for me. That was just… I’m done.“

Nielson’s 12-year-old daughter, Monet, said she watched her dad doing drugs in the past. At that time, she was worried her dad would either commit suicide or die from a drug overdose. He had already had four overdoses. She feared he wouldn’t be around as she grew up.

“He’s not going to be around. That was a thought going through my head, because he was just using and using and using. There was one time I walked in on him using,” she said.

Monet and her sister Jayna said they are proud of what their father has accomplished, and look forward to having fun and spending time together. He’s no longer absent from their lives.

“He took faith in himself and actually noticed that he was doing something wrong and that he had to go and fix something to make things better,” said Monet.

Jayna, age 10, used to live in fear that her father would go back to using drugs. S said she likes their new life back together.

“Now I put all of that in the past. Now it’s time for his graduation,” she said.

“I did it for my daughters,” said Nielson. “But, I also did it in a major way for myself, because I have to take care of myself before I can take care of them.”

Knowing that he could not be there for his daughters haunted him for years. They’re all living together now, starting off a new chapter and a new school for the girls this fall.

“We’ve developed our relationship, and developed it, and worked on it,” he said. “We can talk now. We can open up to each other. If feels like a family.”

Nielson works at Odyssey House helping peers in their recovery from drugs and alcohol.

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Drug Court Graduate Credits Daughters For Recovery Motivation