The 8th Judicial District Drug Court will hold a graduation ceremony at 2 p.m. Dec. 7 at the Scott County Courthouse in Forest. Circuit Judge Vernon Cotten will preside.

One of the graduates will be the keynote speaker. Her addiction to prescription drugs cost her custody of her three children. Under the supervision of Drug Court, she has regained custody of her children and now works as a counselor and house mother at Weems Mental Health Center. "She is the epitome of a success story," said Drug Court Coordinator Marcus Ellis.

Fourteen people are expected to graduate. Graduates include six Scott County residents, three from Neshoba County, three from Newton County and two from Leake County.

Graduates represent all facets of the court's treatment programs. One has completed the Veterans Component; two have completed the DUI Component; and one completed the Probation Violator Component. Ten others completed the traditional Drug Court.

The Veterans Component addresses the special needs of military veterans and helps connect them with resources, including treatment provided through the Veterans Administration. The DUI Component addresses alcoholism.

A third offense of driving under the influence of alcohol is a felony. The Probation Violator Component deals with convicted felons who have been released from prison but have violated the terms of their probation by testing positive for drug use.

The Eighth Circuit Drug Court currently has 171 participants. It takes about five years to successfully complete the program.

Mississippi currently has 43 drug courts statewide with more than 3,000 people enrolled.

Drug courts seek to rehabilitate drug-using offenders through drug treatment and intense supervision with drug testing and frequent court appearances.

Drug courts offer the incentive of a chance to remain out of jail and be employed, and the sanction of a jail sentence if participants fail to remain drug-free and in compliance with all program requirements.