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Dublin woman beats addiction, joins nonprofit to help those struggling with substance abuse

Once a drug addict and now in long-term recovery, Ashley Dykes wants RISEUP to be a safe place for others.

DUBLIN, Ga. — Ashley Dykes is the executive director for RISEUP, a peer-driven addiction support center that's part of the Community Service Board of Middle Georgia (CSBMG). It stands for "Recovery in Supportive Environment Utilizing Peers."

At RISEUP, they help people in recovery, and those seeking recovery. They offer peer mentoring, Narcan education, community awareness, and other services that relate to substance abuse. 

RISEUP is welcomed to everyone including the LGBTQIA+ and homeless community.

Dykes is currently in long-term recovery.

According to goodtherapy.org, long-term recovery means an individual has stopped or moderated their substance use and improved their quality of life for at least five years. 

Dykes says recovery looks different for everyone. However, her goal at RISEUP is to let people know they can come to their support center for help.

"There is no judgment here. Again, we've all been there, so we understand," said Dykes.

Dykes considers herself a late bloomer when it comes to drug addiction.

"I didn't really start active addiction until I was 21," said Dykes.

She said it started with a beer around the age of 16. She said she didn't like the taste of it, but knew it made her feel good. She wanted more.

"Pain pills, cocaine... the one that took me the furthest down was meth," said Dykes.

Dykes continued to struggle with addiction even after her son Addison was born in 2006. 

Addison was born with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). It's a progressive muscle weakness disorder.

She said it was hard for her to go to his appointments because it was too much for her.

"I would have to get messed before we went to even handle it," Dykes said.

She couldn't face the truth that she had a problem just yet.

"How can you admit something when you don't really know what's going on?" said Dykes.

In 2012, Dykes realized she had a major problem and something wasn't right. The beginning signs of her son's disorder started to show. She said she would "pawn him off" to her parents.

"This whole time, I thought I was a good mom," said Dykes.

She said it was a vicious cycle to continue her habit. Without recovery, she would not have mended her relationships with her family.

Dykes wasn't only in recovery, she was also a domestic violence survivor, and that's when she said it finally hit her.

"It took me within an inch of my life to get it," said Dykes.

Dykes started working for the Community of Mental Health in 2019. During her orientation, the RISEUP team gave a presentation. After the presentation, Dykes knew exactly what she wanted to do.

"I knew I wanted to tell my story. I didn't know when or how, I just knew I needed to share what had happened with me, so even if it was just one person, I could help that person that had been down that same road," said Dykes. 

Dykes wanted to work with RISEUP. Soon, the pandemic hit, and Dykes worked from home for 19 months as a clerk for CSBMG.

Soon after, program manager Tina Clements offered her a position she couldn't refuse.

"She said, 'By the way, you'll be the new executive director at RISEUP,'" said Dykes.

She said it wasn't until get stepped foot at the support center did she feel like her dream really came true. 

Since serving as the executive director, Dykes has made RISEUP a home and safe place for people in need. Her goal is to make sure people know this is a place for those struggling with addiction and want to seek help.

"There is no judgement here," said Dykes.

You can learn more about RISEUP here.

If you or someone you know is struggling with drug addiction you can call, (478) 353-1188.

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