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Billings woman to share drug recovery story at March Against Drugs & Violence

Annual march starts at 11:30 a.m. Saturday
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Posted at 10:15 PM, Sep 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-11 12:44:18-04

Taking a stand against drugs and violence— that's the goal of a march in Billings on Saturday.

One woman is sharing her personal battle with drug addiction in hopes it might help save the life of someone else.

The 24th Annual March Against Drugs & Violence will take place on the Yellowstone County Courthouse lawn on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The keynote speaker will give her speech about her struggles and challenges of overcoming drug addiction and her messages of hope and inspiration.

"They call me the sauce boss in here," Misty Mitchell said of her job in the Passages kitchen.

Mitchell knows the challenges of overcoming drug addiction.

"I hit a lot of obstacles and then I've been revocated twice," Mitchell said. "I've been to Passages twice. I have not made it home since 2020."

She works in the culinary arts program (CAP) at Passages, where she now helps make meals for about 400 inmates, many who are battling some of the same demons that confronted her ever since she was arrested and charged with two felony drug possessions for meth in 2019.

"I had to break down my own walls," Mitchell said. "These guys helped me and that's really what made me blossom."

"She feels good about herself," said Gina Poor, Passages director. "She feels good about what she's doing. And she's she's made that turn. She wants to live a good healthy life."

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Misty’s shirt has pictures of her brother and her son, who each died from drug problems.

She will wear the shirt on Saturday when she is the main speaker for the March Against Drugs and Violence.

"They’re a part of my growth," Mitchell said about her two family members who died. "And my every day to get through things. When you literally watch somebody that you love with everything in your body die from drugs, it changes you."

This last march was in 2019, and it had been halted for a few years because of COVID.

According to the latest Billings Police Crime Report, drug offenses peaked in 2018 in Billings but have been on the decline since.

"It used to be a lot more focus on alcohol," said state Rep. Mike Yakawich, R-Billings. "And then it became meth and then fentanyl, synthetic drugs. It always seems like there's new drugs coming out that are being abused."

Yakawich is the founder of the march.

While he was a part of the South Side Neighborhood Task Force, families in South Billings walked to the courthouse lawn.

He believes the march has deterred others from using drugs, including his own five children.

"I know personally, and I've heard from others, that hearing this message is encouraging and inspiring and hopeful," Yakawich said.

A message resonating thanks to voices like Misty Mitchell's, a woman who agreed to speak when she was confident she was on her way to overcoming drug addiction, with help from the workers and inmates at passages.

"Hopelessness to hopeful came in because I didn't do this on my own," Mitchell said. "I'm lucky. I really am."

"There's always hope," Poor said. "And Misty's an example of that."