MOCKSVILLE, NC -- While Governor Roy Cooper is fighting the opioid epidemic on a national level, a rural community in Davie County is tackling the crisis on its home ground.
North Carolina is one of several states dealing with a growing addiction problem.
State officials say abuse and overdose numbers are on the rise all over the state, even some of the smallest rural areas.
The population in the Town of Mocksville is only about 5,000 -- 48 times smaller than Winston-Salem and roughly 55 times smaller than Greensboro.
But when it comes to the opioid epidemic, you can throw the numbers out.
David Kessler, an Active Recovery Coach, says small towns and big cities all have the same problem with opioids.
"This particular substance does not care,” said Kessler. “It has no prejudice. It has no specific way of determining who is going to attack."
The pain of that attack is a feeling Kessler knows all too well.
"I have personal life experience, 23 years of life experience with opioids,” he said. “I spent 15 years of that in active addiction to opioids."
It was an addiction he had to learn how to beat on his own.
“I had nowhere to go. I had no one to turn to,” said Kessler. “Once I found a way out, I did it the hardest way possible, I made a pledge to myself.”
GRIP IT became Kessler’s slogan for sobriety.
“GRIP IT stands for Get Real Into Prevention In Time,” said Kessler. “The goal of GRIP IT when I started it was to weave a web of resources.”
Kessler has continued weaving that web for the last seven years -- helping others who are battling opioid addiction.
“What we want to do is make sure that everybody has complete knowledge of all the ways they can find active recovery,” said Kessler.
Now his web is expanding into Mocksville.
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Two weeks ago, along with the help of the Life Restored By Faith Outreach Ministry, Kessler opened a new opioid treatment center on Depot street in Mocksville.
They offer group classes, one on one coaching, and assistance with detox programs.
“There are ways to do this if we pull together as the community,” said Kessler. “But the biggest thing is, we have to speak about it. We have to say it's OK, stop being silent.”
The organization hosts a free substance abuse workshop every Tuesday night at 6:30 P.M. at 113 Mill Street in Mocksville.
For more information, visit the GRIP IT Facebook page.
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