“Your Light Still Shines” honors those lost to addiction, shares ways to help others

Published 12:10 am Saturday, September 2, 2023

SALISBURY — Substance abuse doesn’t just harm the people who are addicted, but their families and loved ones also experience tragedy in a multitude of ways. Aug. 31 was International Overdose Awareness Day, established in part because getting treatment for substance abuse is unfortunately easier said than done in many instances and people lose their lives because they don’t receive the help they require.

On Thursday at the Salisbury Civic Center, the Rowan County Health Department and the city of Salisbury hosted “Your Light Still Shines,” an event to showcase International Overdose Awareness Day and spread the word about local services and agencies in the area that can help those who are struggling with addiction.

“The vendors that we have, they either serve the population through treatment or through resources with medication or other things that support their health and well-being,” Substance Use and Mental Health Program Manager at Rowan County Public Health Department Hayley Edwards said.

Organizing gatherings like these go a long way to those who are in need. No matter how far a person’s addictions have taken them, they can still be saved as long as they want to be and they know what can be done for them. Project LIGHT, Daymark Recovery Services, Capstone Recovery Center, and N.C. MedAssist had booths and information available for anyone looking to find out more about what they offer and what can be done to combat the rise in overdose deaths. Having these groups collaborate gets as many people as possible working towards the same goal to prevent addiction.

“We do serve the same community,” Edwards said. “We ask everyone to open their minds and their hearts to individuals who are struggling with substance use, have compassion, and open up a conversation with individuals because if we can help reduce that stigma that might just help individuals be willing to get into treatment or get help.”

A large part of the event was spent watching a recorded video of Dr. Stephen Loyd, a medical doctor who had his own problems with drug use, but has since devoted his life to getting people the correct treatment they need in order to not only survive, but thrive when they reach sobriety.

One Love Community Resources is a “non-profit mental health and substance abuse clinic” whose mission it is to help people as young as three years old and up going through their own defined struggles. They have programs specifically for veterans and kids who seek personalized treatment. They also stand out by accepting people who don’t have insurance.

“We’re small staff, but we have therapists and qualified professionals that handle some of the programs,” Director of Resource Development and Marketing Jackie Harris said. “It’s not very hard to get people to come into out office because there’s so many referrals…We don’t turn anyone away.”

Towards the end of the night, everyone in attendance walked outside the center for a candlelight vigil to remember those who have passed away because of addiction. Terri Dockins lost her son six years ago to an overdose and has been on a crusade to help others who have gone through what she has. She has since formed a group called Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing or GRASP.

“It’s for the families who’ve lost people, children, relatives, anybody to substance abuse,” Dockins said. “It’s a different kind of death. It’s not cancer or a car wreck. We can just talk about things only we are going to understand.”

Dockins wanted to come to “Your Light Still Shines” to gain inspiration for ways to improve her own organization. Seeing the inclusiveness there with her own eyes made her feel better about aiding people like her.

“I’m really happy to see all of this. It really makes me feel good that they’re working together. It seems to be a lot of support here today, ” Dockins said.