Monday, August 31 is Overdose Awareness Day

news story quote
Photos and story courtesy of Lincoln Herald

Monday (Aug. 31st) is Overdose Awareness Day.  Each year for the last several, some 70,000 people in the US have died from drug overdoses.  More than half of those died from overdoses involving opioids.  

The Lincoln Herald will mark the day with several articles, two of them penned by people who have overcome drug problems.  The first of those follows:

Tens of thousands of people have died of an opioid overdose every year for nearly two decades--unnecessarily. Addiction to heroin, pain pills, and other opioids is damaging our nation and our communities. Addiction, while at times fatal, is treatable; and the outcome of a life lived in recovery and helping others to recover is amazing. I should know. I’m in recovery.

I live here in Lincoln county, and also provide care as a behavioral health clinician for substance use disorders at ICGH-Lincolnton off North Flint Street. Rather than the ‘dose-and-go’ clinics and “pill mills” that are driving overdose across this country, we strive to focus on RECOVERY-oriented treatment.

Many arrive at our door broken, defeated, and hurt. We greet them with a warm smile and a glimpse of hope that can only come from “lived experience.” I arrived at the ICGH Hickory facility some years ago in the same desperate state, unsure of what was to be. With hard work and dedication and most important, a team of amazing individuals supporting me in my journey, I slowly transformed into the person I was meant to be. I returned to school and started my journey as peer support; then realized I wanted to do more, so I started my clinical journey as a counselor.

This is your hope shot--if you are reading this and feel hopeless and defeated, come see us. I'm not saying it will be easy, I'm saying it will be worth it. Integrated Care of Greater Hickory, now with ICGH offices in four counties, helped save my life,  taught me accountability and gave me structure through a proven evidence-based model of recovery treatment. I was able to apply all these skills to my life and learn a new way to live.

Why did I choose to work in this field? Because I know what it's like walking into your standard treatment facility, feeling judged, and simply, like just another number. I remember the fear and uncertainty, and I decided I would make it my life's passion to make sure those who walk through our door will be greeted the same way I was when I arrived in Hickory all those years ago.

If you or someone you love is suffering from this disease, we can help! There is hope. If you wake up every day and the battle of the mind begins; you watch yourself waste away emotionally, and physically, as you lose this battle time and time again...come see us. I know just how hard you fight, no matter what others who haven't experienced addiction see or think about you. My message to you is this: There is a better way to live, and you can have a life beyond your wildest dreams without the use of a substance.

Let us help. We can and do recover. We believe in you and know that you can do this! You don't have to be that statistic any longer. Why not come by and see what we can do to help you start your journey of recovery?

Many people do not know how to access resources to assist them in seeking recovery. Integrated Care of Greater Hickory (ICGH) is excited to provide Medication Assisted Recovery Services (MARS) through a federal SAMHSA grant. Through the MARS program, those fighting opiate addiction who have limited financial means to seek evidence-based treatment can access free care with us, which includes doctor visits, buprenorphine/naloxone medication, peer support, and counseling in Gaston and Lincoln counties.  Services include assistance with addressing difficulties related to unemployment, transportation, or other difficulties resulting from addiction.  Those who have issues related to housing, who may be homeless or not have safe housing, may be able to find assistance through our partnership with the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department, which has been able to provide free housing for qualifying persons.

If you have questions about our programs, you can contact our agency at any of our four locations in Lincolnton, Gastonia, Hickory or Statesville or by phone at 828-322-5915.

--Rebecca Collins, CADC-R, NCCPSS – ICGH Lincolnton