Drug addiction remains a devastating epidemic. When someone gets hooked and their life spirals to rock bottom, it can seem hopeless, and their loved ones are left unsure how to help.
But for one woman, what turned things around were some words of tough love—from her arresting officer.
Eight years ago, Anna Williams, from Bakersfield, California, was a drug addict. It got to the point where she couldn’t function without substance abuse.
“I have to do the drugs, don’t you understand?” she recalled saying. “I can’t get up without it.”
Her life was spiraling out of control. Not only was she an addict, she was dealing as well…
And soon enough, she was in jail.
Williams found herself in front of Deputy John Puga of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office—and he wasn’t there to sugar coat things.
“He told me, do not laugh with me, don’t do anything, I am not your friend Anna,” Williams recalled to KERO.
“We are not friends, I am not here to be friends with you.”
Dept. Puga was brutally honest with Williams, making it clear that this was a serious offense—and even after this arrest, he would still be on her.
“If you do get out, look over your shoulder because I’m right there,” he told her frankly.
But remarkably, the tough approach worked—Williams turned her life around after that arrest.
Williams did something too many people never do: she put drugs behind her, and set out to live a clean life.
Eight years later, she’s still clean—and has never forgotten the words that turned her life around.
While many arrested people don’t have particularly fond feelings for the officer who put them behind bars, Williams knew it was that deputy’s tough love approach that saved her life.
So years later, she set out to thank him.
Visiting the station and reuniting with the officer after all these years, Williams thanked the officer for what he did.
“I just want to thank you so much, for all the rough, tough words,” Williams told him.
The deputy was happy to hear Williams turned her life around—but insists that she did the hard part: finding the strength to quit.
“I’m very proud of her because not everyone can do what she’s done,” he told KERO.
“She’s the true hero here.”
But Williams did have one important request for the officer:
”You said, don’t talk to me, I’m not your friend,” she told him.
“I wanna be friends now.”
The unlikely duo cemented their friendship with a hug—but even more imporantly, they teamed up to visit the Jamison Children’s Center to speak to children impacted by drug abuse.
This deputy saved one woman’s life—but hopefully together they can change a whole lot more.