HENDERSON, N.C. (WNCN) – The latest statistics reveal opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade.
Jamie Elliott from Vance County is working to change that.
“I’ve seen them as young as 14, 15. I’ve seen them as old as 75-years-old,” Jamie Elliott said.
All of them share the same problem — drug addiction. Elliott knows it well.
“Hurt my back from just a simple back procedure and then it led to only taking the medicine the way I was supposed to, and then from that point on taking it more than I was supposed to fully blown addicted to it,” Elliott said.
Elliott told CBS North Carolina he overdosed on a cocktail of prescription drugs, he called that rock bottom.
“Besides all the money I spent and the damage I done to my family, that part was the part in my life when I knew I had to do something,” Elliott said.
He managed to get clean – and then he wanted to do something to help others. Elliott went to his pastor, at Blessed Hope Baptist Church in Henderson with an idea for a faith-based 12-step recovery program.
Now four and a half years later, every Tuesday night at 7, more than 50 people gather at the back of the church.
“When I see the group of people sitting here that’s a group of people that the drug dealers are not getting today,” Elliott said.
The Henderson fire chief told CBS North Carolina there were 119 reported opioid overdoses in 2016 in Vance County. This year they on track to break it, that number sits at 114.
Local law enforcement said many of those found overdosing aren’t even from Vance County, they’re from Wake County. They told CBS North Carolina the addicts make the drive because they know they can get the drugs cheaper here and they don’t wait to go home to get high.
“It’s just a wonderful feeling to see people that has once given up in life has now gotten up and saying I can do this,” Elliott said.
Elliott hopes to expand that work and has started Grace Ministries.
And, as yet another reminder of how real the need is – a relative of Elliott’s wife died of an overdose last week. Her memorial is scheduled for Saturday.