‘Addiction is very real, but recovery is as equally as real’: New Horizons Behavioral Health’s Recovery on the River

Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 11:57 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 10, 2023 at 11:58 AM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - With drug overdose deaths on the rise, a first-of-its-kind statewide bus tour called “Mobilize Recovery Across Georgia” is hitting the road to share that recovering from an addiction is real.

It made its way to Columbus with something Friday night called Recovery on the River.

24 million Americans are on the road to recovering from substance abuse, nearly 800,000 Georgians contribute to that number. Recovery on the River was a gathering to show the opposite of addiction is connection, and that starts at the local level.

“The electric energy here is just amazing,” says Jennifer Harper, ”I’m in recovery again for the I don’t know so many times, but I feel like this time is where it’s at for me,” said Jennifer Harper.

Harper was addicted to meth and homeless. Now, she’s just enrolled in classes at Columbus tech and one month into her recovery, making strides to change her life, like other Georgians in long term recovery fighting substance use.

New horizons behavioral health’s event, Recovery on the River, opened doors for face-to-face connection for those battling substance use and mental disorders to know they are not alone.

New Horizons’ recovery coach John Burdeshaw was one of several guest speakers living in their recovery.

“I was 20 years in my addiction, I was shooting up meth and heroine, I’ve been locked up a dozen times, I did some time in prison, but God’s been good to me because I am eight and a half years in recovery. It’s important to share with others to give them hope. Hope is knowing that you have friends around you that are as close as family in recovery,” says Burdeshaw.

Burdeshaw says there are so many examples of lives being changed in Columbus, including Joshua Williams.

“I have been an addict for probably 25 years of my life and coming to Columbus was the first time in my life that I got recovery. It’s been an emotional ride, I’ve had some relapses here and there, but I feel great, I feel strong and the community is very supportive and that’s what counts here in Columbus,” said Williams.

Recovery on the River in Columbus is stop 17 out of 48 cities in Georgia, part of the Mobilize Recovery Across Georgia bus tour.

“We don’t know how many people out there right now are on the cusp of making a decision, we don’t know how many people are struggling, really struggling with a substance use disorder. What we’re trying to do through this tour is show people that this is a safe place, a safe space,” said Chris Thrasher, CEO of substance use and disorders from the Clinton Foundation.

Community outreach manager for DBHDD, Jeff Breedlove is also living in long term recovery. Breedlove says there’s a stigma around substance use.

“What the stigma really translates to is discrimination and barriers. We hope to break down that discrimination and say ‘you know what Columbus, the government, the businesses, faith leaders, the education community, they support you’. It’s okay to seek recovery. If you’re one of my brothers and sisters in active addiction and you’re wondering, ‘is it okay to get to into recovery?’ The answer is yes. Addiction it’s very real, but recovery is equally as real. There’s entities and organizations right here in Columbus, peer lead, peer supported, clinically lead, clinically supported....whatever you need. Columbus has it. You can get some help, and you can know the hope and Joy of recovery,” said Breedlove.

To learn about New Horizons Behavioral Health and their assets, click here.