GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — September is National Recovery Month. It marks a time for both medical professionals and those who are struggling or has dealt with addiction, can come together to support one another.
As people begin to navigate their recovery, others are highlighting the resources there for them.
“This month for me it’s, there’s a lot of emotion, there’s a lot of triggers,” said Ricky Johnson with Veteran Services of the Carolinas.
Drug addiction doesn’t discriminate. An important sentiment being echoed during National Recovery Month.
“Recovery and substance use is something that has a lot of stigmas associated with it so I think it’s very important to show people that the community is on board for this,” said Lillie Malpass / Exec. Dir. “Pitt Co. Coalition on Substance Use.”
Lillie Malpas is the Executive Director for the Pitt County Coalition on Substance Use.
“Even though we don’t do treatment we try and highlight all of the great resources in North Carolina not just Pitt County so people can connect themselves with those resources,” said Malpass. “We really focus on educating the community about substances, recovery, treatment, things like that.”
She says it takes people like Ricky Johnson to share their stories to help those battling addiction. Johnson, a veteran, and three-time convicted felon say it is important to highlight his past so people can see his growth.
“I’m not Ricky with the disease of addiction, I’m Ricky who made terrible choices, I’m Ricky who paid a heavy price and suffered a lot of consequences for it,” said Johnson.
He notes, when it came to drugs and substance abuse, he put it above all.
“If I told you that I made my son a priority, I’d be lying to you. Substance use came before everything. For the following years, I was in and out of addiction. In and out of treatment facilities. Being incarcerated,” said Johnson.
He says support from others can help guide those struggling in the right direction, including himself.
“I had three changes of clothes to my name and that was it. I burned every bridge I had. I crossed paths with an angel and she’s now my wife,” said Johnson.
Both noted that it all comes down to that first step in recovery.
“If you have a vision or a goal the most important step is the very first step. You don’t have to be great from the beginning but you must begin to become great,” said Johnson.
Both Johnson and Malpass will speak at a virtual event Thursday, September 23, explaining more about the services offered to those in need.