LANCASTER, NY- Two On Your Side has shared many stories about the heroin and opioid crisis in Western New York and how addiction tears families apart. Now one local young woman is celebrating a huge milestone in her recovery and sharing her inspiring journey to sobriety.
20-year-old Shannon Winsor has appeared in Lancaster Court many times over the past 16 months. But this day is different.
"I graduated drug court today," Shannon exclaimed.
2 On your Side has followed Shannon's story for months now. She bravely shared details about her years long addiction to heroin, crack cocaine and other drugs, about watching friends die, and overdosing many times herself.
"I was constantly playing Russian Roulette with my life," she admitted.
After being arrested for stealing to support her habit, she found herself in Lancaster's Problem-Solving Court in April 2016. Even then she couldn't stay clean.
"She had relapsed several times when she was here and was literally on death's doorstep," said Lancaster Judge Anthony Cervi.
Cervi sent her to jail for 8 days and rehab at the Renaissance Campus. It was rock bottom for Shannon, and she now sees it as a moment that the judge saved her life.
"I don't see him just as a judge, I see him as somebody who took control of my life when I couldn't and I'm forever thankful for that," said said.
But Judge Cervi says Shannon saved her own life.
"I'm glad to have been able to help her with her journey because that Shannon that stands before the court and stands in the community now is wonderfully changed and I hope forever," said Judge Cervi.
Shannon has been clean since May of 2016, and her dedication to recovery and the program has led to her graduation from drug court. She pleaded guilty to a minor violation which won't tarnish her record, so Shannon has a clean slate now as she moves forward. She hopes sharing her story will inspire others.
"I take a lot from my court experience. That there are always people I can come to if I start to struggle and that there's a lot of people that care about me and that Problem-Solving Court is not a bad thing at all," Shannon read in a statement in court.
Shannon's dad used to fear he would lose her to drugs, now he cherishes every moment together.
"I can kid with her. I can joke with her. She smiles now. The day is a blessing," said Douglas Winsor.
Shannon found help and found hope and is living proof that it's never too late to start over.
"Thank you to everyone for changing my life into one that is so beautiful," she said.
© 2017 WGRZ-TV