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Those who suffer from substance use disorders often feel shame and guilt. They also fear others will judge them, which prevents them from seeking help and treatment.
That’s why it’s important for community members to reach out, officials say. And even the smallest gesture can bring those living in darkness into the light.
“We are here because I believe we can stop death with hope,” said Troy Manns, statewide manager of advocacy and education at Recovery Communities of North Carolina. “I am living proof that recovery is possible. All of us bring to the table a unique background.”
Manns was the featured guest speaker at the Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition’s meeting Monday. He has more than 17 years of experience in working to galvanize people and systems toward supporting long-term recovery initiatives.
Manns also shared his own personal story to a room full of Wilson leaders in hopes of inspiring them to keep up the fight in helping people find hope through recovery.
‘BY THE GRACE OF GOD’
Manns grew up in a small town in North Carolina. His father was an alcoholic and abusive. He also learned at a very young age to never tell anyone what was going on in the home.
“You learn to keep secrets,” Manns said.
Manns began experimenting with drugs at age 12. By the time he was 18 years old, he was doing crack cocaine. He also drank. It was his way of coping and escaping anxiety.
“I didn’t understand how regular people coped,” he said.
It took some time before Manns finally got into treatment. He said one time he walked into a health department for help. He was ashamed and alone. He told the lady at the front desk he needed treatment. After making a few calls, the woman came back with some bad news. There were no more beds left and it would be three weeks until Manns could get one.
Manns said as he was walking out the door, something told him to turn around.
“I don’t think I have three weeks,” he told the woman.
That woman ended up being a saving grace for Manns. She ended up taking him to a treatment center in her own car.
“I’m standing here by the grace of God and people reaching out,” he said. “I needed some help.”
While he turned his life around, people reached out to him along the way, including a man who gave him a job and ended up being a mentor.
“He invested in me,” Manns said. “An investment isn’t a quick fix, but a process.”
Through his recovery, Manns learned he had a gift.
“Serving other people made me get better,” he said.
He’s since worked nearly two decades doing just that and has become a leader in the recovery community.
“We have to look at people as human beings,” he said. “Nothing that you do is too small.”
Monday’s meeting was attended by dozens of people from an array of disciplines who work at the ground level in helping those who suffer from substance use disorders find hope and programs through recovery. The group continues to work on initiatives in prevention and intervention.
Joe Shakour, who is the Wilson County Substance Prevention Coalition’s new director and also serves as senior pastor at Tabernacle Baptist Church, shared updates on those various initiatives including the Lock Your Meds campaign.
About 67 percent of people who misuse prescription medications get them from family and friends, according to officials. The coalition is beginning to distribute personal lock boxes to those who have medications to keep them safe and out of children’s and others’ hands.