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Marching to celebrate recovered lives

Non-profit, A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, and supporters proudly gather to celebrate broken addictions and restored lives, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Mountain City, Tennessee.  Photo by Veronica Burniston.

By Veronica Burniston
Freelance Writer

Despite the persistent rain, A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition and supporters gathered to celebrate broken addictions and restored lives on Friday, September 25.Founded in 2003, the Alliance of Citizens Together Improving Our Neighborhoods (A.C.T.I.O.N.) Coalition is a local non-profit that strives to improve the lives of all Johnson County residents. The nonprofit’s mission focuses on freeing the community from “substance use disorders,” building strong foundations for local youth by encouraging them to live happy and healthy lives, strengthening families and boosting the economy by eliminating “substance misuse,” and providing resources and guidance for local partners as well as those in need.

Every September is the National Recovery Month, an opportunity to share information about the treatments and mental health services available to help those with substance addictions and disorders to live a free, satisfying life.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 128 Americans died daily in 2018 due to opioid overdoses. Of those fatalities, the state of Tennessee lost 1,818 lives.

In a recent Monitoring the Future (MTF) study, it is clear alcohol and marijuana have also become major problems among American youth. In 2019, it is reported that 11.8 percent eighth graders, 28.8 percent tenth graders, and 35.7 percent twelfth graders used marijuana regularly in the past year. Of those numbers, 1.3 percent eighth graders, 4.8 percent tenth graders, and 6.4 percent twelfth graders used it daily.

The same problem exists with alcohol among adolescents. In another MTF study, data shows 19.3 percent eighth graders, 37.7 percent tenth graders, and 52.1 percent twelfth graders regularly consumed alcohol. Because of this steady rise in alcohol, marijuana, and drug misuse, addictions, and fatalities, nonprofits like A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition are vital to communities.

The organization’s dedication to serve its community and provide options for those struggling to break free of damaging addictions delivers hope not only to those addicted but to their families as well.

“Your past does not have to define you,” Travis Church, guest speaker at the celebration event, said.
After sharing his story about years of addiction, repetitive jail time, and how God saved him from himself, Church said, “[Jesus] cleaned up my thoughts. He cleaned up my heart.”

Church, along with several others, shared their testimonies before the group, hoping to encourage and embolden those still fighting addiction.

“It’s not a destination,” Trish Burchette, the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition Executive Director, said. “It’s a journey, and [they’re] walking it every day.”

On a September 14 Facebook post, A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition proudly shared this quote: “There is no shame in beginning again, for you get a chance to build bigger and better than before.”

For more information about the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition, visit the website www.actioncoalition.org. For news about upcoming events, how to support the non-profit, and volunteer opportunities, call 727-0780. To learn more about the national struggle against drugs, visit www.drugabuse.gov.