News 12 First at Five / Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012
AUGUSTA, Ga. --- Millions of Americans are battling drug addiction every day -- from alcohol abuse to pill popping -- and our area is not immune.
September is Recovery Awareness Month and the Augusta area is doing its part to get you involved. It's a chance for you to learn more about what these men, women, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters are fighting with.
Ron Ellis moved to Georgia three years ago for rehab.
Recovery Awareness Month Events
Sept. 6: 3rd Annual Recovery Month Awareness Dinner
-This event provides a forum for discussions with the Executive Directors of local agencies regarding the treatment needs and options for Georgia's citizens, during National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month (recognized by SAMHSA).
-Be My Guest Catering, 4216 Washington Road
-6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
-$35 per person
Sept. 8: 4rd Annual Race for Recovery and Disc Golf Tournament
-Riverview Park, North Augusta, SC
-5K Run/Walk at 8 a.m. -- $15
-Disc Golf Tournament at 10 a.m. -- $15
"This was my second time at rehab, and I think this time, the difference was this time, I realized I needed help," he said.
After losing his business, home, wife and kids, 51-year-old Ellis hit rock bottom with his addiction.
"I was just a disgrace," he said. "I dabbled with all kinds of other stuff, but if you put them all on a table, I would reach for the rock of crack cocaine. It does something to your mind that you just have to have it and will do anything to get it."
Ellis celebrated three years sober on Thursday after rehabilitation and a lot of work.
"I'm happy, every day. I wake up and there's a purpose in my life now. The purpose is not to try and go out and find something to alter my state of mind, so to speak. I just love life, I have a great relationship going on now with my kids, my family," he said.
And Ellis is just one of millions battling drug or alcohol abuse.
"They come in, in denial. Denial is not a lie, it's when the mind cannot let it see the truth about their condition," said Ken Wilson, director of Stepping Stones to Recovery.
After 25 years as a drug counselor, Wilson has seen a lot.
"We have a dramatic rise in opiate or prescription pill dependence. In fact, from 1999 to 2009, prescription pill dependence has increased 400 percent," he said.
They're numbers leading to more and more deaths.
"The mind builds up a resistance to these pills where you have to have more and more and more to have an effect and then the mind cannot transmit to the heart to beat or the lungs to breathe," he said.
But for many addicts, it's not too late for them to get help.
"Most addicts and alcoholics are not bad people down deep inside. They're very good people, we're just sick. If you know an alcoholic or an addict, don't give up on them. There's still hope," Ellis said.
Ellis is now a resident manager of a recovery house, helping other men. He also volunteers at local jails, working to change lives.
The Augusta Coalition for Addiction Recovery is holding its third annual dinner Thursday. Saturday morning. There will also be a Race to Recovery 5K at Riverview Park in North Augusta.
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