Recovering addicts reflect on struggle, plan Chattanooga events for Overdose Awareness Day

Ben Cook is a counselor at Teen Challenge. He went through this program years ago after overdosing himself.

Ambulances coming out of Hamilton County EMS stations responded to 59 suspected overdose calls this month. The director of EMS says that proves the problem is still prominent after the numbers have been on the rise for the last few years.

It wasn't long ago that emergency responders were helping James Reason.

"I've woken up in a hospital. I've woken up in a medical tent at an event. I've woken up literally with my face on the floor," Reason said.

Reason grew up in Ooltewah and says he was hooked on heroin for nearly eight years.

According to Hamilton County EMS, medics have responded 30 potential drug deaths this month.

The director says that's high, but is only one more last August.

Reason's sister died last year, at just 23-years-old, of a heroin overdose.

Even after that, it took months for Reason to grieve her death and ask for help himself.

"I began to really cry and I felt shame and guilt for the first time, and it's just because I had been medicated and just numb to the situation," he said.

Now, he's part of this group of guys who are striving to overcome addiction at Teen Challenge in Chattanooga.

Ben Cook is one of his counselors. He went through this program years ago after overdosing himself.

"I had a purpose. I had a future," he said. "That's what broke me free of living a lifestyle of addiction."

He says what he's doing is working, and that should serve as hope for the rest of the guys.

The Tennessee overdose prevention organization will hold a candlelight vigil Thursday night at 7:30 near the Tennessee Aquarium to raise more awareness about its cause.

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