RANDOLPH COUNTY, N.C. — Health experts say it only takes a few days to develop an addiction to opioids. In Randolph County, that translated into more than 600 overdoses in the last year.
Tuesday night people impacted by substance abuse and addiction shared their personal stories hoping to break the stigma by having a heart-to-heart with those that share the community they live in.
Their message is that addiction does not discriminate.
"Had I thought that would ever happen to me, like if you asked me, I would have laughed just because I would have thought I was untouchable because I never experienced that," said Amber Mabe, a recovering addict.
The idea of being untouchable quickly unraveled after a car accident in 2014.
"I was prescribed opiates and that opened the door to becoming an addict for the last five years," said Mabe.
For five years, drug use ruled her life. Her breaking point came last February.
"We were both still in active addiction. There was a lot of domestic violence. He knew that I was trying to leave him, and he smashed the windows to my vehicle with a crowbar, and that point I realized my life had reached a level of chaos and insanity that I didn't know how to contend with," said Mabe.
For Anna Bigelow, it was the loss of her husband who overdosed in 2018.
"We have lived a beautiful life, but we had also been through some really hard times. He struggled with addiction from the time that we first got together," said Bigelow.
Addiction ended their 12-year marriage and left her alone to parent three young children.
"Sometimes life is really frustrating and really hard, really painful, but in the midst of that there is always something to be thankful for, and if we can focus on that and shift our perspective, that will help give us encouragement that we need to move forward," said Bigelow.
For both women, part of moving forward is sharing their stories so active addicts know they are not alone in their fight to recovery.
"They still have a chance to let them know how much they love them and that they are not a disease but that they are a person," said Bigelow.
They say there's no one right way to stay sober, but the journey starts with not being afraid to ask for help.
If you or someone you know are seeking help you can reach out to the Community Hope Alliance that provides resources in Randolph County for harm reduction.