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Mar 30, 2012 8:00 PM

New program helps addicts recover outside of prison

TUCSON - Instead of getting locked up some non-violent drug addicts in Pima County are now getting clean and sober thanks to a program created by Pima County Attorney, Barbara LaWall.

It's called the Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison Program, or D-Tap. And this week, two women became the first to graduate stage one of the 36-month program.

Denice Hotchkiss is a 45-year-old mother of three. She started smoking pot when she was 11, quickly graduating to harder drugs like cocaine and meth. But after graduating from the first stage of this innovative new program, Hotchkiss is clean and sober for the first time in 34 years.

"It was like a second chance for life," Hotchkiss said about the program.

Instead of sending non violent drug offenders like Hotchkiss to prison, Pima County is sending some of them to a residential drug treatment center.

"Because prison doesn't do it for you, you don't get what you need in prison," said Hotchkiss, who is closing in one year of sobriety. Now she has a job, her own apartment, and hope for a better life.

"It's just a wonderful feeling, knowing that the drug addict that I was, being the recovering drug addict that I am today, it is a really good feeling of getting up every day and being productive, instead of just thinking where am I getting my next fix," Hotchkiss told News 4 Tucson.

The program's creator, Barbara LaWall stated in a news release: "These women are proof that drug recovery support services can and do work. D-Tap is making a positive difference in people's lives and in our community."

After her last arrest Hotchkiss, was looking at another long prison sentence. She'd already wasted four years behind bars and she knows prison isn't the answer to her problems.

"When I was in prison those three other times I didn't get what I needed to stay clean and sober, and now I have those tools to be able to do everyday life, live life on life's terms, and stay clean and sober," Hotchkiss said.

Next week, Adam Finkelstein will become the third recovering drug addict to graduate from the D-Tap program.

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