St. Ignatius man graduates from drug court and ‘keeps head up’

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Nick Stasso, right, stands with District 20 Judge James A. Manley after he graduates from drug court Thursday, Jan. 24. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

While court can be a somber or intimidating experience for some, that wasn’t the case last week for Nick Stasso.

Donning khakis and a “Pugs Not Drugs” shirt under a black graduation gown, the St. Ignatius resident had reason to celebrate as he graduated from drug court at the Lake County Courthouse in front of District 20 Judge James A. Manley and his support system.

“I appreciate everybody. (I’m) going forward from here,” he said to his peers Thursday, Jan. 24.

Stasso, 32, explained he was born around addition and grew up around it.

While he did the best he could to avoid it, he said in 2014 that he “fell” to methamphetamine.

“It took me down a pretty deep path really fast. I spiralled down really quick,” Stasso recalled after the ceremony.

Crediting drug court with helping him reach sobriety, Stasso is also part of local 12-step programs and holds a steady job at KO Auto in Ronan.

“Without drug court, I wouldn’t be here.”

In March, he’ll celebrate not only his birthday, but two years at the auto shop, where he is working up the ranks.

Going in an out of jail a few times in a few years helped Stasso realize “that wasn’t me and that wasn’t the life I wanted to live, institutionalized.”

Enjoying freedom and his family, Stasso did what he could to escape what he called a bad environment and turn his life around.

Going forward, Stasso is studying for certification testing at the auto shop.

“I’m staying in the present to continue moving forward.”

He encourages everyone battling addition to keep goals small, which he’s doing himself.

“Keep your head up. Things do get better if you try. You have to find the love inside and from other people.”

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