Brookings County celebrates first drug court graduate, former 35 year meth addict

It was a first-of-its-kind graduation celebration in an unlikely place. With a special ceremony, the third judicial court in Brookings County honored a woman who, at one point, was addicted to methamphetamine for 35 years.

It was the county's first-ever drug court graduate and the community is proud.

Before this week, there were 13 total participants in the Brookings County drug court program. The drug court is a joint effort between Brookings, Beadle and Codington counties.

As of Thursday, Tiffany Heyduk is the first official graduate.

"It means I can go live my life and do things. It's like doing the right things, staying involved in the community, helping other kids to know not to use drugs," Drug Court Graduate Tiffany Heyduk said.

She told KSFY News she first turned to meth more than 35 years ago.

"I started using to be Superwoman to take care of my children, to work hard at my job that I've had for 33 years. My kids are now grown," Tiffany said.

At that time, she needed help. When the opportunity to join the drug court program in Brookings County arrived, Tiffany was all for it.

"I had already been to prison and jail numerous times. I couldn't just quit. It wasn't that I didn't want to. I just didn't know how to do it," she said.

Magistrate Judge Patrick McCann says it was a proud day for the community.

"To have the opporutnity to have a drug court that is successful and that we know works is just invaluable," Magistrate Judge Patrick McCann said.

Not only invaluable to the court and to Tiffany but to everyone else in South Dakota.

"There's cost savings to the community, there are savings to the state, for not having them incarcerated for a long periods of time," McCann said.

Tiffany is 20 months sober on her graduation day.

"I can't even believe it's been ths long already," she said.

It's a day she never thought she'd live to see.

"We're all different. We've all used for different lengths of time. I used to think that just because I used longer, it'd be harder one to heal. there are people who haven't used that long and It's taking their life away from them," she said. "I hope for the very best for them all. you become very close with them."

South Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice David Gilbertson makes an effort to attend every county's first graduation ceremony. Serving as keynote speaker, Thursday, he said people like Tiffany are what the program is all about.

"When you consider the number of people who are arrested for drugs in our state, these are the exceptions. The people in our programs. The vast majority of these unfortunate souls wind up in the penitentiary where they are warehoused, they get out and they're addicts," Chief Justice David Gilbertson said.

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with drug addiction, take Tiffany's advice.

"Get involved with the drug court, they're amazing. An amazing program. Saved my life," she said. "Besides the two birth of my children, this is the happiest day of my life to be able to accomplish this. For all the people who have been there to love me through this."

The drug court is a huge team effort between treatment professionals, law enforcement, the states attorney's office among others. When everyone is committed, Judge McCann says the drug court is a success.

For more information about the drug court in Brookings County, or to find one near you, visit the link attached to this page.