DUPLIN COUNTY, NC (WITN) A former opioid addict was among those sharing his story at an opioid awareness presentation Thursday sponsored by the Duplin County Sheriff's Office
Shane Kennedy says he wants people to know, "There's hope on the other side."
Kennedy says, "I really became addicted to opioids, and benzos because I was really trying to deal with the sleeplessness of the methamphetamine."
Kennedy has been clean for twelve years and wanted to share his story.
Duplin County Sheriff Blake Wallace says, "Today is an effort to bring all the stakeholders together, that's law enforcement, mental health providers, health care providers, educators."
Members of the general public were also invited to attend, listening to stories like Kennedy's, and hearing the hard facts of addiction.
Wallace says, "Opioids are available in every medicine cabinet in every home."
According to statistics from the Duplin County Sheriff's Office and Centers for Disease Control guidelines -- in 2015, Duplin County pharmacies dispensed enough opioids to medicate every one of its 64,000 residents around the clock for 21 days.
Wallace says, "When they're no longer available they reach out to illegal substances like heroin."
And those illegal substances are now stronger, and more powerful. So Sheriff Wallace says one way to tackle the issue is dialogue, and hearing messages of hope, like Kennedy's, who show that addiction can be overcome.
Kennedy says, "There's hope on the other side. The first step is standing up and saying I'm an addict."