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She recovered from addiction. Now she wants to help the community that saved her.

Posted at 5:54 PM, Sep 22, 2022

RICHMOND, Va. -- September is recovery month and it serves to celebrate those who are healing from substance use disorder.

While the path to recovery isn't easy, it sometimes can start by simply making a phone call.

"I almost lost my life with the battle with alcohol and every relapse is worse and I think I'd been to the point where it would've been life-threatening," Crystal Smith, a patient with the McShin Foundation, said.

Smith knew she needed help but getting it near her home in Southwest Virginia seemed impossible.

"I reached out to some places, they either had like an answering service or they had no beds available, a waiting list, didn't take my insurance. I happened to call McShin and they answered, a live person walked me through what I needed to do and I mean, it was truly meant to be. It beautifully worked and it's still beautifully working out," Smith said.

That phone call and a six-hour drive brought her to McShin. She went through a 28-day treatment program and now lives in the foundation's sober living home, something she said saved her life.

"You live with other people who are in recovery. We're support for each other. You are not alone at all, I think that's one thing that helps me," Smith said.

Christopher Ronquest has worked with the foundation for four years. He and every mentor there has been in Smith's shoes.

"I was in active addiction and McShin Foundation came into the jail that I was incarcerated at and they stayed at a program and that program, once I got out of my way and practiced some open-mindedness and gave it a chance, that program not only changed my life but it saved my life," Ronquest said.

Between April of 2021 and 2022, there was a 6.9% increase in drug overdose deaths in the United States.

During that time in Virginia, there was a 20% decrease in overdose deaths.

Smith wants to help those numbers to continue to drop by cultivating the community that cared for her in her time of need.

"I have to be in the recovery community. I know that. I cannot defer away from that and I want to be. And I hope one day that I'm able to sit across a desk somewhere and help somebody that was me and put them on the right track, that there is life. Life is great," Smith said.

It's something she said is worth smiling about.

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