The road to recovery was a long, rough drive for Pam Williams.
"I'd been drinking and doing drugs for 35 years," she said. "My son, he's 28-years-old, and had never seen me sober."
That is, until about two years ago when the Dawsonville woman entered Dawson County's Treatment Court, an accountability program for drug and alcohol offenders that's proven to help turn lives around.
"I would probably be dead today if it wasn't for the treatment court," she said smiling with pride minutes after a ceremony to recognize graduates Thursday at the Dawson County Government Center.
Now 51-years-old, Williams, who started using drugs and alcohol in her teens, has personally seen the horrors of addiction.
"I lost my oldest son to drugs. Once that happened, my life just went in a downhill spiral," she said.
Then her husband passed away a few years later.
"I started using more and more to cover up the pain," she said. "It was a rough road."
Her son Andrew Waters was at Thursday's ceremony to support his mom.
"I'm proud of you," he said.
Williams described the newfound relationship with her son as a new chance at happiness.
"It's a whole new relationship and it's great," she said.
Williams said completing the program helped her turn her life around.
"I'm happy. I'm content. I have my own home, something I've not had in a very long time," she said. "I have a full time job. I'm just very pleased with my life."
Established in 2006 under the guidance of Judge Jason J. Deal, Dawson County's treatment court was created as an alternative to jail for offenders, who voluntarily enter a guilty plea and accept two years of treatment.
The 24-month treatment focuses on creating positive life choices and increasing family relations, employment and fiscal responsibility. It also works to lower criminal behavior, substance abuse and health risks.
Felony drug charges are dismissed after completion of the program.
"I love graduation," Deal said. "I want to challenge you...to emulate those that were successful once they had graduated from drug court. Look at the folks that had been successful, and do what they do."