BY SAMANTHA HEARN

Wednesday, Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day, with events being held all over the world to raise awareness and honor those who have lost their lives to addiction.

Addiction Campuses, headquartered in Brentwood, sent representatives to Southaven, Mississippi, where DeSoto County leads the state in heroin-related overdose deaths with over 20 in this year alone.

While there, Addiction Campuses is hosting a press conference with Turning Point, an addiction treatment program, to help raise awareness about the growing epidemic of drug abuse and addiction.

Tennessee is one of the top states in painkiller prescriptions with 143 prescriptions per 100 people according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Tennessee Department of Health has warned about an increased spread of Hepatitis C due to intravenous drug use.

“Addiction is the big pink elephant in the room that nobody talks about,” Addiction Campuses Public Relations Manager Brian Sullivan said. “Everybody knows somebody who is addicted to prescription painkillers. It’s kind of a culture thing and there’s not really a stereotypical drug user anymore. It could be anybody.”

Sullivan explained the mission of Addiction Campuses is to provide a program that goes beyond the typical 30-day plan and treats the addict mentally, medically and spiritually to break the cycle of repeated visits to rehab.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 60 percent of people relapse after their first treatment. Addiction Campuses overwhelmingly receives calls from people who have already completed other rehabilitation services once, twice or more.

According to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, around 60 percent of people who are arrested for most types of crimes test positive for illicit drugs and 80 percent of criminal offenders abuse drugs or alcohol. Nearly 50 percent of jail and prison inmates are clinically addicted, but Sullivan explained how incriminating addict doesn’t stop the problem of drug and alcohol abuse.

“Addiction is a health issue, not a criminal one,” Sullivan said. “Addicts don’t belong in jail, they belong in treatment. No one has ever said, ‘I was an addict, and then I went to jail, and now I’m not.’”

Addiction Campuses’ services include medical detox, residential treatment, transitional living, counseling, life skills education and individual counseling. What makes them different from other rehabilitation services is that they try to tailor the recovery process for each individual’s needs.

“We don’t believe that one uniform program works for everyone,” Sullivan said. “We don’t just deal with the addiction and get them detoxed. A lot of people have unresolved trauma. We heal the whole person.”

Addiction Campuses offers scholarships for those who need them and works with insurance companies to make sure patients have the care they need.

Spring 2 Life is Addiction Campuses’ biblical-based program that has one of the highest rehab success rates in the country, but it also offers non-faith based programs, as well.

Addiction Campuses has representatives available 24/7 via phone. It offers counseling for all kinds of addiction including prescription drugs, heroin, alcohol, pain killers and even gambling, food and sex.

“We just want people to know that they have a place to go,” Sullivan said. “Addiction is nothing to be ashamed of. It’s a disease. We don’t point fingers here, we reach our hand down and we help people up. Everyone deserves the right to a new life. Everyone deserves recovery.”

If you or someone you know has a drug or alcohol problem, contact Addiction Services at (888) 512-3306.

Samantha Hearn reports for Home Page Media Group. She can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @samanthahearn.