Judge Ryan Toone congratulates and presents the Certificate of Graduation to recent Breaking the Cycle graduate Katy Bryant on Tuesday, Feb. 11. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Mesquite should be nicknamed the city of second chances; if you get into trouble because of an addiction, that’s exactly what you’ll get in this town, a second chance and a lot of support.

Such is the case with Mesquite Court’s “Breaking the Cycle” program. On Tuesday, Feb. 11, Katy Bryant became the newest graduate of the program who successfully broke the cycle of drug addiction and avoided a lifetime of having to overcome a court record.

The Breaking the Cycle program in the Mesquite Courts is one of 42 “Specialty Courts” that have been enacted as a result of Assembly Bill 29 (NRS 176.0613) in 2003.

According to Nevada Courts Overview, “Specialty Courts offer non-violent substance abusing offenders an alternative to incarceration. The goal of a Specialty Court is to break the cycle of the “revolving door” syndrome and support participants to achieve total abstinence from drugs and/or alcohol, by promoting responsibility and accountability, and teaching participants to become productive law abiding citizens, which in return reduces criminal recidivism and provides for better, healthier communities.”

You’re familiar with the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child.” In the case of addiction, it takes an entire community to break the cycle and it seemed as if the entire community, or at least a representative, was there to support Bryant’s victory. From Mayor Allan Litman and city council members to civic organization leaders, friends and family, including other participants of the program.

Their leader in breaking the cycle, Judge Ryan Toone, is the most avid supporter of the program and a seemingly perfect choice to be the General in overseeing the battles along the way.

The program is not designed to allow those who are enrolled to skate through it. Bryant worked harder in the program than she would have going to jail but her future wouldn’t have been nearly as bright.

It takes years to overcome the stigma of a felony conviction but with Breaking the Cycle, participants can avoid the conviction from the start, if they successfully complete the one-year program.

AA meetings, working the 12 step program, wearing a GPS ankle device, essay writing, daily contact with a probation officer, private/group counseling, community service, employment and multiple weekly drug testing is just some of what Bryant successfully accomplished in her year before graduation.

Like many chronic diseases, addiction is not a condition that develops overnight. In fact, addiction is well-known for developing slowly and perhaps even unnoticed over time. The process of developing an addiction happens in stages just like any other chronic condition; the main difference is that the cycle of ailment, treatment, and relapse seems to be much more prominent and recurring in cases of substance addiction.

Breaking the Cycle treats the addiction in stages or “Phases” allowing for more privileges as the participants move to the higher stages of the program. There are several participants in the program at any given time. They are all in different stages but working together. With the support of Toone and his army, they hold them accountable to the community, the program and to the standards they set for themselves.