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Preventing addiction

Coalition forms to take on a challenge to community

“It’s time,” said Solutions Addiction Recovery Center Director Tom Fowler.

The toll that addiction plays on a community can’t be overstated, according to Fowler.

“However the disease of addiction progresses, so do we as a community,” he said.

With that in mind, he and like-minded community members have formed a coalition to tackle the problem head on, united. The Anderson County Recovery Support Coalition met last week for the first time and came out of that meeting with a list of items they can take action on immediately.

Tina Baker, who just opened a new real estate school, has offered one free scholarship to people who are living a clean and sober life after struggling with addiction. Dmitriy Kurbaton, a counselor at Journey Pure Rehabilitation in Norris, will offer free one-hour sessions to people who are trying to get out of addiction. Others will offer free counseling, free beds at rehabilitation centers, free health checks and consultations, a 30-day scholarship to Solutions Holistic Residential Recovery and more.

“There’s no funding for the coalition,” Fowler said, who also serves as a family interventionist specialist and substance abuse counselor at CSARC. “It’s just people with good hearts, helping others out. A lot of people in Anderson County just don’t have the money to get the help. A lot of them want it, they just don’t have the funds. So we’re going to come together and offer help.”

All a person has to do is give him a call.

“We’ll assess them and make sure they’re an appropriate fit,” he said, “but that’s it.”

Fowler has been involved in the field of recovery for eight years. For him, it’s personal.

“Why is this important to me? Because that was me. I was living under a bridge 12 years ago,” he explained. “The solution is simple. We need to have more support groups in the area and more resources.”

It takes connection. He stressed community and connection as the key to getting out of addiction, and that can take many forms — Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, faith-based recovery groups, wilderness therapy and even yoga. Many people in addiction isolate themselves and feel shame for their actions, but addiction is genetic, according to Fowler, and takes more than just willpower to get out of.

“They don’t want to be doing what they’re doing,” he said. “A lot of times people in addiction will act out, but they’re crying out for help. A lot of times we don’t see that. If there are resources and help here in the community, it can bypass a lot of problems that are created later on down the road.”

Problems fester and build, according to Fowler, whether they’re physical addiction or issues like depression and anxiety.

Many people in addiction feel hopeless, and that things will never change. He wants to offer support groups where people can see others succeeding and living life to the fullest.

“Perception is reality,” he said. “and if somebody’s perception is that, well, I’m never going to get out of this, then that’s what is going to be. If they see recovery is possible, that becomes their perception. They can say, ‘That guy was underneath a bridge, and he’s in recovery,’ or ‘that person was struggling and now they’re doing great.’ It becomes really motivating for somebody to see that.”

The coalition will meet again on March 28 at 6 p.m. at 175 Executive Park Dr. in Clinton. For more information, contact Fowler at 865-242-3494.