More addicts reaching out for help around the holidays in the Triad

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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The holidays were always tough for Gattis Long.

"I isolated myself a lot; the guilt and shame of being addicted to drugs and alcohol,” Long said. “I felt alone in a crowded room."

For about 25 years, he battled several demons.

"Alcohol, cocaine, marijuana," said the 49-year-old.

He says those addictions were even harder to face when family got together.

“You see your family members interacting with each other and the kids,” Long said. “It just gives you the sense of, 'I need to do something different.'"

He now helps others get off drugs and alcohol as a veteran’s case manager for Caring Services in High Point.

Since Thanksgiving, the treatment center has seen double the amount of people come in for help, mainly people addicted to opioids.

"We've had to institute a waiting list for this time period," counselor Sarah Lewis Yow said.

"Their holidays don't look like they do on TV and there's a lot of shame and guilt,” Lewis Yow said. “And that shame and guilt will prompt them to want to get help."

Lewis Yow says some of her clients are either banned from holiday functions or brought in to the center by family.

"They have nowhere to go,” she said. “They have no one to be with. They're especially lonely, depressed."

Last week, Attorney General Josh Stein sent out a list of resources for people struggling with addiction during the holidays.

"It's OK to ask them to get help,” Lewis Yow said. “It's OK to tell them they have a problem."

Long, now nine years clean, says getting that help has changed his life and the way he now celebrates with family.

"I hosted my family this Christmas,” he said. “It was wonderful."

If you or anyone you know is battling drug or alcohol addiction, you can call the Alcohol Drug Council of North Carolina's 24-hour hotline at 1 (800) 688-4232.

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