It knows no boundaries. It does not discriminate. It will eventually kill—if not your body, your mind and spirit.
There are 23 million adults currently living in the U.S. who have struggled with addiction to drugs or alcohol.¹ And in the state of Kentucky alone, an estimated 1,000 individuals die each year from a drug overdose.² These numbers do not account for the children and teenagers who live in homes with one or both parents who are addicts. Some children make it out and others don’t; often becoming a statistic of addiction—not by death but by becoming users themselves.
Union College—nestled in the heart of Appalachia in eastern Kentucky—is keenly aware of addiction problems that exist in its own backyard. Despite the statistics typed out in papers and read on the news–Union faculty and staff know the success stories of those who have overcome addiction, and their ultimate goal with their Facing Project, “Facing Addiction in Knox County: It’s Our Move,” is to share stories of survival to inspire others to seek help, break down stereotypes of what an addict is and what life can be beyond addiction, and to show the world that their community is more than a statistic—Knox County is a story of breaking the cycle.
One such story is that of a teenager named Tracy. Tracy grew up in an environment where drugs were easy to come by, and everyone was doing them. In her story, Tracy reflected upon a moment when she realized her life was about to change:
“The horror in my eyes as I watched the social worker gathering up my clothes, putting me in a car and explaining to me that both of my parents had been arrested so now I had to go to another place. . .My father’s scruffy face promising me he would stop making and selling meth then the look of anger and anguish on his face as he got arrested and put into prison for manufacturing and selling two days later.”
For Tracy, that was pivotal in her development and shaped her into the person she is today and the life she hopes to lead as a role model for others:
“That night, and all the memories that came with it, was the defining moment that made me who I am today. I knew I didn’t want that to be me. I’ve seen what drugs can do to you mentally and physically. . .I want to help people overcome their circumstances, poverty and drug addiction, and help them fulfill their dreams.”
At just 16, Tracy is wise beyond her years. Addiction may have broken her family, but it did not break her spirit. Life for Tracy is just beginning.
Read the rest of, “I Stopped the Cycle: Tracy’s Story,” as told to writer Victoria Englehardt.
¹According to a 2012 study published by Partnership for Drug Free Kids: http://www.drugfree.org/newsroom/survey-ten-percent-of-american-adults-report-being-in-recovery-from-substance-abuse-or-addiction/
²Retrieved from a 2012 USA Today Report: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/story/2012-08-26/kentucky-babies-addiction/57331390/1