ALBANY, GA (WALB) - The opioid addiction epidemic is not only a fast growing problem in South Georgia but the entire nation.
Thursday night, Phoebe Putney and Aspire officials hosted a town hall meeting to give insight on addiction and its impact.
In 2015, 33,091 people died from an opioid overdose, nearly six times as many similar deaths happened in the year 2000.
Ryan Layfield is an opiate survivor from Georgia who is speaking about his journey with addiction when he tried his first opioid his senior year at the University of Georgia,
"It was something that I had never tried before and when I did I became addicted pretty much instantly," said Layfield.
That one time led to years of struggling.
"The next seven years of my life would be riddled with addiction and loss, until the end of my addiction I ended up homeless panhandling for money in downtown Atlanta," said Layfield.
Layfield explained that the problem with this disease is that it's hidden most of the time.
"We don't normally think that drug addicts look like me. Nobody thinks that a homeless heroin addict looks like their son or daughter," explained Layfield.
He felt his purpose with this meeting was to reach to at least one person.
"Addiction is real and it affects a lot more people then we think it does. It affects a lot more families then we think it does. But recovery is also real and recovery is out here," said Layfield.
Layfield came to the Anchorage in Albany for his recovery and said it gave him a second chance at life and wants to tell others they can have it too.
"Surrendering, surrendering to the fact that I need help. That's the hardest thing anybody can ever do is just honestly admit that I need help," said Layfield.
Experts report nationwide 91 people per day die from pain medication overdose.
Georgia has the 13th highest number of deaths from opioid abuse.
Aspire offers programs for battling addiction and can be reached at (229) 430-4140.
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