Recovering Addicts, Advocates Speak Frankly During Candlelight Vigil

Vigil 1Moving Starke County Forward is working to reduce the stigma attached to drug abuse and deaths due to overdoses. The 56 ribbons that have lined the front lawn of Starke Hospital for the past few weeks represent local lives lost to drug overdoses over the past seven years. They were moved to Wythogan Park in Knox last night for the second annual candlelight vigil to remember lives lost and celebrate those who are in recovery.

Todd Willis with Porter-Starke Services says it’s important for addicts and their families to remember they are not alone, and there is hope. He adds addiction is not an illness of weakness.

“You’re loved one that passed wasn’t weak. You and your family members that are struggling with addiction, it’s not about being weak. We known now things that we didn’t know before in terms of brain signs, and how these kind of chemicals, once they get into your bloodstream, do changes on a physical level to your brain. It makes it very difficult to stop. And so we want to encourage you, in an event where we remember, encourage you that there’s hope,” Willis said.

Vigil 2Nicole Dixon also spoke. She is an addict in recovery who started using drugs as a young teenager to mask her feelings and moved on to heroin in her early 20s in what she described as a “crazy spiral of drug use.” Dixon was arrested at age 23 with her ex-husband and convicted of dealing heroin. She completed a rehabilitation program while in prison, has been sober for three years and two months and just completed her probation.

“Don’t give up on your son, your daughter, your brother, your sister…I know they’re killing you, but they’re killing themselves, too, and maybe one day they might change,” she said.

Mike Hookman has been in recovery for three years. He agrees you can’t turn your back on people.

“There’s a fine line between tough love and no love. Addicts can’t recover alone. They need a support system. They just need people there to talk to, and everyone recovers differently.”

Hookman says addicts will fall down in their struggle to overcome their addiction, but says it’s what you do when you mess up that matters most.

WKVI will air the entire program on Sunday, Sept. 4 at noon on Kankakee Valley Viewpoints.