Houston Co. woman's struggle with addiction inspires the creation of iHOPE

iHope raising awareness for recovery month

September is National Recovery Month -- aimed at shedding the light on those suffering from mental health issues and/or substance abuse.

In Houston County, one group is making it their goal to talk about it. Our Jacob Reynolds tells us why.

The group's name is iHope, which stands for Intentional Houston Opportunities to Promote Empowerment.

iHope has been working for years, and especially this month, to remove the stigma of talking about recovery treatment and needing help.

In the past few weeks, the non-profit has gotten the county and the city of Warner Robins to acknowledge Recovery Month and the struggles that come along with mental health issues and substance abuse.

For iHope's founder, it's personal.

“I was addicted to whatever would change me, change the way I was feeling. That's what it was about,” said Tarusa Stewart.

Stewart struggled with drugs and alcohol for 14 years, but has now been clean for 14 and a half.

She says recognizing her own problems and being able to talk about them has turned her life around.

“One word: empowering. That's how it feels. I mean that in the most humble form, because it was a lot of pathways that helped me get to where I'm at today,” said Stewart.

According to Warner Robins police, there were 120 drug activity complaints in 2015, 7 DUIs stemming from drugs, and 120 DUIs related to alcohol.

Stewart has lived the problem and that's why her non-profit is working to fix it.

“From 14 years of active addiction, to more than 14 years clean, that's what I want to show people,” said Stewart. “That no matter how far or deep in the darkness that you may have gotten, there's always a light of hope.”

It's the reason why iHope meets at Second Baptist Church the first Friday of every month -- to tell their stories, and hope those struggling are listening.

iHope will host a luncheon event at the church on September 27 to share their stories of success and talk about long term recovery treatment, and the impact it makes in the community.

The event is free, runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and you can register online.


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