COLORADO SPRINGS — The opioid epidemic and struggles with substance abuse have been in the headlines more often over the last five years.
From discussions in congress and the state capitol, it's becoming an issue increasingly impacting more Coloradans.
"There's a stereotype that people have in their minds I believe of who the average victim of an overdose is," Truett Scofield, who lost his son to overdose a year ago said.
From those who have lost loved ones to people in recovery, it's a story playing out for more and more Coloradans.
"I used to be really socially awkward, I started drinking and like the first drug I ever actually did was ecstasy," Dan Hugill, who now helps others on their sobriety journey said, "by the time I was 14, 15, I had a fake ID and I was buying liquor and I was full-blown drinking everyday like sophomore year in high school."
Hugill is a part of an organization called "The Phoenix", which offers exercise classes to people as long as they've remained sober for 48 hours. Hugill credits community as a big part in his journey.
"You know what was going through my head when I was battling addiction is what am I going to do to make sure I have enough money or drugs to make sure I don't run out of drugs," Hugill said.
Nowadays, Hugill's days are spent encouraging others and lifting weights. He said he has a lot of gratitude for his life now.
"I never thought I could have a life like this now and it's just getting better and better and expanding more and more and finding more people to help & it's powerful," Hugill said.
In addition to his work with The Phoenix, Hugill has also worked with Springs Recovery Connection, a local organization that works to help people struggling with substance use through programs including peer coaching.
Jerrid Dominguez is among the peer recovery coaches, his addiction story begins from a young age at nine years old when he first smoked weed.
Over the years, he turned to other substances.
"I consumed myself with anything that would fill the void," Dominguez said.
For Dominique Knowles, her story to recovery involves many ups and downs. Knowles is now the Justice Program Manager at Springs Recovery Connection.
She says when it comes to working to recovery, there's a path for people, even as they face challenges like she did.
"I think generally everybody needs to understand that there is hope and no matter How many times a person gets off their path of recovery, like making sure that we keep the doors open, and keep conversations open for others," Knowles said.
As many experience the light at the end of the tunnel in their recovery story, it's not everyone's story.
Truett Scofield lost his son "TJ" to an overdose exactly one year ago Monday.
"He inspired me to completely change my life," Scofield said as he reflected on his son's life, "very emotional young man, he had a lot of empathy for folks, yeah, I miss him."
Scofield has noticed a stigma from people over the last year when he talks about his son's death.
"There's just not a lot of empathy for victims of overdose," Scofield said.
If you or someone you know is in need of help with substance use, there are several resources in southern Colorado.
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