GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Coleda Lee has battled a heroin addiction for half her life.
“I've been an addict for over 20 years,” Lee said. “It's a struggle. The demons are real. The struggle is real. I was living motel to motel. My life was destructive.”
It was an addiction that led her into a life of crime and eventually six years in prison.
“I'm a felon,” said the 43-year-old. “And it all stems behind my drug use.”
But these days she's doing much better.
She's been in recovery for two years and now shares her story every week in a circle of women who are also battling addiction.
“I can come in, and I can open up,” Lee said. “I can say anything I want.”
Louise Vincent is the executive director of the nonprofit Urban Survivor's Union in Greensboro.
“We provide naloxone education, resources to treatment when people are ready,” Vincent said.
She formed the women's group after seeing that women weren't coming in for help.
"When we looked at our numbers this year, we had way more men than women, so it was a wake up call," Vincent said.
Vincent says women who are addicts are often too scared to get treatment.
“Being a woman and using drugs is already highly stigmatized,” she said.
Topics like pregnancy during addiction and abuse often come up.
"Living in an underground economy, selling sex for drugs or money, these are issues women need to talk about,” Vincent said.
More than 200 women had opioid-related overdoses in Guilford County this year.
That's up from 115 in 2016.
“We're seeing rates of disease go up in women,” Vincent said. “We're seeing more women incarcerated.”
Lee says those statistics can change through circles of support.
“This is my safe place,” Lee said.
The women's group meets every Tuesday.
The nonprofit says the group is open to all women battling drug addiction, no matter what stage of recovery they're in.
You can contact Urban Survivor’s Union at (336) 669-5543.