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Andrew Bruss graduated from Burnett County’s drug court program last week. In the courtroom, he read a heartfelt letter explaining how he has grown in the program and thanked the authorities and peers for believing in him throughout the process.

Andrew Bruss spent a year and a half in Burnett County’s drug court program.

He told the courtroom full of drug court participants and family members when he entered drug court he was going to do the bare minimum, so he can be done with it as soon as possible.

“When you came to drug court you were looking at getting it done as soon as you could,” Judge Melissia Mogen said. “In the time since then, you have completely changed. You have done so many great things.”

Bruss admitted he had some concerns with sobriety, “It’s about staying on track with meetings and it’s up to me.”

Mark Stoner, who works with a number of drug court participants, said he was “happiest right now for you.” He continued by saying he was proud of Bruss’s willingness to take part in the program.

“It gives me a lot of hope to see you graduate,” Stoner concluded.

Bruss read a letter to the court about the progress he has made in drug court. In the letter, he said, “what do I have to do to get these people off my back,” referring to finishing the program as quickly as possible.

Then he could “get back to the life I thought I deserved. That was 18 months ago. For those first five months, I made failing look good.”

He admitted he showed the program, authority figures, his peers and himself no respect.

“I just want to express how grateful I am that you could see the real me that was hiding behind the extremely sick and broken person I was 14 months ago,” Bruss said.

He is going to school for heavy equipment operator and continues to improve his life every day, according to the officials in drug court.

District attorney Joe Schieffer sits in on drug court and he also commented on Bruss graduating from the program.

“Drug court is not just about getting sober,” Schieffer said. “For most graduates, this is the top of the mountain. But for you, this is obviously just the beginning.”

“I’ve learned to love myself and am proud of who I am becoming,” Bruss said. “Drug court saved my life.”