Recovering drug addict creates local task force to save lives

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. – A new community group is getting the word out about addiction and is offering an overdose treating drug for free.

In 2016, the High Point Police Department responded to 191 calls about overdoses. Opioids are a major problem there, but law enforcement agencies say it’s across the county.

Guilford Naloxone Task Force is a new group working to raise awareness on what they are calling a drug epidemic. Naloxone is a drug the reverses the effects of opioids.

“Naloxone saved my life multiple times,” said Chase Holleman, the founder of the group. “I’ve been in recovery for almost four years now. My journey through recovery has inspired me to be a part of the social work profession and get involved in the community. “

The task force hosted an event at Tate Street Coffee House in Greensboro on Saturday night. The Smith family from High Point was in attendance.

“I did not know the severity of his addiction until he called me one night and said, ‘I'm in jail can you come bail me out,’” Dennis Smith said.

Dennis Smith’s son Alex used to be addicted to heroin.

“I was physically hooked at 18 years old. Very quickly I knew it was a problem, but I didn't know what to do about it,” Alex Smith said.

Now in recovery for five years, Alex is helping others by working with the Guilford Naloxone Task Force. The group offers rescue kits with Naloxone for free.

“You can't help someone if they're dead, so the first step is how do we keep someone alive long enough so that they could find the recovery support services,” Alex Smith said.

The groups’ long term goals are to convince city leaders to take action and try things like decriminalizing users, creating programs and providing more access to treatment.

“It affects every area of society, so if we could just help curb that a little bit, it'll be a positive benefit for all areas of life,” Alex Smith said.