TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — "There's always been a chance that I was going to make the news, never did I think it would be for something positive," Brandon Bailey said.
That positive something came with a cap and gown for one group at the Kino Sports Complex.
"I've been on drugs for about 20 years so it's good to finally be done," Nicholas Peery said.
Both were part of the first group in about two years to have a fully in-person graduation ceremony.
They're graduating from the county's drug court rehab program.
Admittedly, this last year might have been the hardest hurdle to get over.
"I almost didn't make it several times."
Bailey said the isolation in 2020 caused him to relapse.
"When the pandemic hit, AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings stopped," he added.
Ultimately he and others are putting on the threads and looking forward to a new life.
"It's almost like normal life is coming back,"
"It's nice to see that things are coming back to normal a little bit, you know," Peery said.
'Normal life' taking on a new meaning after a pandemic but also recovering from addiction.
"I've been an addict for 26 years, so normal life does mean a lot more than no masks and in-person," Bailey said.
"Being sober, doing things in the community, not only without the masks but with sober people doing healthy and fun activities, things that are actually beneficial to my lifestyle," Peery said.
A reason for family and friends to come together, faces mostly uncovered, but mainly to uncover the possibilities of a fresh start.
"With everything negative going on the world today, it's nice to be doing something positive," said Bailey.