PEORIA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A Peoria woman is sharing her story from rock bottom to redemption after overcoming addiction. Leslie Eckstein credits Maricopa Count Adult Drug Court programs that recently received national recognition. “Today, I’m feeling pretty good about myself because I’ve come a long way,” says Eckstein.
Her journey began several years ago when she used meth with an ex-boyfriend. From there, Eckstein spiraled out of control. She had a few run-ins with the law and was no longer capable of taking care of her little boy. “I got hooked on it right away,” recalls Eckstein. “It gets a hold of you and you get further and further, and before you know it, I ended up homeless because of it.”
Leslie’s father, Kevin Eckstein, has to hold back tears as he recalls sleepless nights searching for his daughter. “What hurt the most is when she chose to stay out there and do this,” says Kevin. “I don’t think we had heard from her or seen her for several months.”
By the time officers caught up with Leslie again, she had hit rock bottom. “I’m like whatever,” says Leslie. “I have nowhere else to go, you know? I have no family, no friends, nothing. I’m just out here by myself.”
Kevin says he could tell Leslie had reached a turning point. “When she called from jail and said, 'Dad, I’m getting help.' That was it,” says Kevin.
Leslie spent several months in jail and was later put on probation. She was ordered to go through drug court. The program provided a safe place to live and a support system, giving Leslie the tools to stay clean.
Drug court is part of the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department. Project HOPE (Housing Outreach and Peer Engagement) and the Drug Court Alumni Association were awarded with 2021 Achievement Awards by the National Association of Counties. The programs ensure people have a path to lasting sobriety.
After 18 months of hard work, Leslie graduated last week. She’s also about to mark one year sober. Leslie is now looking forward to getting a place of her own, finding a job, and reuniting with her 5-year-old son.
“I knew if I do everything I’m supposed to do, I can have him back in my life,” says Leslie. “I have the love and support of my family.”
Data provided by Maricopa County officials shows 58% of participants successfully complete drug court, and 29% have remained drug-free in the last year. The program saves families and taxpayers money. It costs about $16 a day to have someone in drug court compared to $70 a day to keep someone in prison.