A former heroin addict is thanking a judge for helping to turn her life around by asking him to officiate her wedding.
Jennifer Griffith, 24, met Judge Chris Wilton in a Scott County, Minnesota, courtroom. She was eight months pregnant and was using heroin, KARE reports.
Wilton decided against sending Griffith to jail. Instead, he challenged her to get clean, go to school and get a job. The move got a lot of attention, and the innovative approach worked. KARE reports two years after Wilton’s mandate, Griffith appeared in court and was discharged from probation.
She also had a unique request of Wilton.
“I was wondering if you could marry me and my fiancé next September?” Griffith asked.
Wilton happily agreed. In September, he officiated Griffith’s wedding.
She said she has big dreams for her future and her 3-year-old son, Jaxson.
According to the CDC, heroin use has increased across the U.S. in recent years in all age groups and income levels. Between 2002 and 2013, the rate of heroin-related overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled.
A University of Virginia study indicates the number of overdose-related deaths have also been severely underreported.
The CDC reports people most at-risk for becoming addicted to heroin include people who are addicted to prescription painkillers, cocaine or alcohol. Overdose rates are highest in the Rust Belt, Appalachia and some western states.
To combat the epidemic, the federal government is providing training and resources to health care providers. Experts are working to develop guidelines on prescribing guidelines for chronic pain. The government is also expanding medication-assisted treatment programs and increasing the development and distribution of the life-saving drug naloxone, which reduces prescription opioid painkiller and heroin overdose deaths.
Stories of people overcoming heroin overdoses have captured attention across the country. Earlier this month, another story of a mother who overcame addiction went viral, she says because of one photograph.
Erika Hurt of Hope, Indiana, went to jail after police found her passed out in her car with a heroin needle still in her hand. Her 10-month-old son was in the backseat, WABC reports. She had suffered a near-fatal overdose.
According to NBC News, Hurt went to jail and started her journey to sobriety. To celebrate one year since the incident and one year sober, she posted a photo to Facebook on October 22.
Hurt missed her son’s first Thanksgiving, Christmas and birthday because she was in jail. She said this year, she’s looking forward to celebrating the holidays with her son.
For more information on about substance abuse, call 1-800-662-HELP.