Communities working to address addiction across Georgia
TOCCOA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - Overdose deaths in Georgia have never been higher. Alcohol and drug overdoses are the top causes of death for people under 60 and communities are working to change that.
Groups across Georgia are joining forces by supporting substance abuse prevention, treatment, and recovery representing over 1 million Georgians, their families, and the professionals who provide services.
“It was my mom who said if you don’t do something for yourself, I don’t think you deserve to have your kid,” said Jay Valesquez.
It was that ultimatum that convinced Valesquez to seek treatment for her drug and alcohol addiction. She’s not alone. Nearly 37,000 people in Georgia enter rehab every year. Most are for alcohol and opioid addiction.
“I could have lost my life drinking it away and I would have left my son behind,” Valesquez said.
Rural counties like Stephens County face a unique set of obstacles in tackling recovery treatment. Centers are far apart and there’s no public transportation.
As a recovered addict herself, Peer Support Counselor Johnna Anderson always makes sure Valesquez has a ride.
“Connection is the opposite of addiction,” Anderson said.
Kathy Whitmire placed the pair together. Her group, Hope For A Drug Free Stephens, partnered with Healthy Georgia and Unite Us to connect people in recovery with what’s available to them to meet that need.
“This is going to be a solution to help and get the word out that there isn’t a need that can’t be met,” Whitmire said.
They’re working on getting these tools to other surrounding counties. The program received federal funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration.
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