An addiction recovery meeting that kicked off last Friday in Jeffersonville was so successful that the creator of the event said the meeting is going to be happening much more often.
“Our goal was to do it once a month. That was my goal because I’m so busy with my business. But when we saw the turnout that we had, Jamey and I decided that it was impossible to do this once a month so from this point forward we are doing it every Friday,” said Richard Rogers.
Rogers hosted the addiction recovery meeting last Friday evening at his gym, Freestyle Grappling and Fitness, in Jeffersonville. Rogers said he is combining efforts with Another Chance Ministry, a group out of Zion Baptist Church, who work with addiction recovery primarily in Chillicothe. The organization has grown to establish more support for addiction recovery across southern Ohio.
Members of Another Chance Ministry came to the meeting and gave their testimonials.
Jamey Wamsley, the program coordinator at Another Chance Ministry, has completed the treatment and recovery process. He said he was once a junkie and dope fiend in Fayette County but since turning his life around, is now able to assist others in getting into treatment and recovery.
Wamsley is also coordinating an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings at Second Chance Learning Center at 420 W. Oakland St. in Washington C.H. every Saturday now.
“With the heroin epidemic everywhere, the AA meeting is open to anybody struggling with addiction. I don’t care what kind of addiction it is, whether it’s heroin, alcohol, weed. If your lifestyle is of addiction, you can come to the meeting,” said Wamsley. “Come as you are.”
Wamsley was in active addiction from the age of 16 up until last year when he hit rock bottom. After he overdosed on heroin five times, he was dying and on life support.
“I wasn’t supposed to make it, but God brought me out it,” he said. He’s been clean for 14 months.
“A lot of people in this community know who I am. A lot of people who know who I am are still out there getting high, and if they’re still using, they’re going to die, there’s no other option,” said Wamsley. “That’s why I’m doing what I’m doing. If they can see that I’ve changed, it will give them hope that they can too. I work at a church but I have multiple felonies and I’ve been to prison. Anyone who says they can’t do it because of their past, well, that isn’t true.”
He estimates there are thousands of people in southern Ohio who are struggling with heroin and opioid addictions. The members of Another Chance Ministry have been facilitating meetings across southern Ohio when and where they see a need to do so.
“In these meetings we have, sometimes we have 100 or 200 people in one meeting. People struggling with heroin and pills. Alcohol, sometimes, but not so much alcohol anymore,” said Wamsley.
He said the meeting Friday was a chance for people who are in active addiction to come forward for help.
“There was a girl who came to the meeting Friday, and she’s still getting high, and she came in and she reached out for help. She voiced, ‘Hey, I need help. Can you please help me? I’m going to die. I want to die.’ That’s what she said, actually. And that’s how heroin makes you feel. Like death is the better option,” said Wamsley.
During the meeting the group prayed with her and shared their testimonials.
“She had a major breakthrough. Now she calls me. I don’t know if she’s stopped using or not, but she is willing to accept some help now. When she came into that meeting, she was blank, she had no emotion. At the end of it she was crying,” said Wamsley.
He said it was heartwarming but heartbreaking.
“Just showing up let’s me know you’re willing to make a change. But when you get past that mask you’re wearing and start crying and showing some feeling and emotion, you know you’ve gotten through to the other side, and that’s hard to do with a drug addict,” said Wamsley.
Rogers said the group began the meeting with the serenity prayer and the members of Another Chance Ministry gave their personal testimonials of going through, and eventually seeking help for, addiction. He said not all meetings will be structured the same. In the future, at some point, they will have a women’s recovery organization come in to share their testimonials.
“This is not a support group for the community and to get information about addiction. This is a recovery meeting. If you’re not bound with addiction yourself, I don’t want you there,” said Rogers.
But Wamsley said the meetings are open to families who are bound to addiction by someone in their family.
“That’s the thing about addiction with somebody, it affects the whole family. We want to support the families as well, because they’re going through the addiction with the person too, just by being there and around them,” said Wamsley.
Dustin Snyder celebrated six months of being clean at the meeting Friday. A member of Another Chance Ministry, Snyder said he had been in active addiction since he was 14-years-old up until he checked himself into treatment.
“I started selling drugs when I was 15,” said Snyder, who grew up in Jeffersonville and graduated from Miami Trace High School. “Addiction is a disease. Most people don’t think of it like that but that’s what it is.”
He said between himself and Wamsley, they probably know everybody in the community “pretty much, but for the wrong reasons.”
But Wamsley said he and Snyder weren’t friends when they were selling drugs and going through active addiction in Fayette County.
“We never hung out together and we didn’t trust each other. We crossed paths at dope houses,” said Wamsley, who said they now sell hope, not dope.
“If you see somebody from the trap houses doing something better with their lives, it gives someone in active addiction a bit of hope that change can be made, that they can do the right thing. It gives them hope. It gives them something to work towards,” said Snyder.
“It was an emotional night,” said Rogers, who said he didn’t lock up the gym to leave until well after 10 p.m. Friday night. “If these guys can change, so can anybody else.”
Rogers said he was surprised by how many people showed up for the meeting. He said addiction takes a person’s self-worth away, and the recovery meetings can help people to regain their true selves while seeking treatment.
“Addiction will take your whole self worth, everything away from you, including your mind. I have seen some pretty strong people get into addiction and end up losing everything, their house, their families, their self worth, they lost everything. They start hitting the bottom. With women addicts, when they start hitting bottom, they start selling their bodies because it’s the only way they can afford to get their fix so to speak. People start robbing houses and committing thefts and doing things they were never created to do. People were never created to do things like that.”
Reach Ashley at the Record-Herald (740) 313-0355 or on Twitter @ashbunton