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Hands Across the Bridge aims to break stigma of addiction

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Here in the LC Valley many people struggle with addiction, but a local event, called Hands Across the Bridge, helps show support for people in recovery.

This event brings together, people in recovery, people struggling with addiction, and those whose loved ones are affected. Some share their harrowing stories about their struggles.

The owner of one local recovery center, has his own story of overcoming the odds, and creating a better life for himself.

Dennis gray keeps an old picture of himself as the back ground of his computer screen. "People look at me of how I am today and think, that old guy doesn't know anything, he hasn't been anywhere. It's not true," said Dennis. It serves as a reminder of the person he used to be. "When I first began using amphetamines, I was working graveyard at a mill, and a lot of us were eating them at night and it was no big deal, and eventually those ran out and somebody showed up with a bag of powder, and it was all over."

Drugs and alcohol became his life. “I didn't realize what it was going to look like long term. And I didn't realize I'd make a career out of drinking and using and all that kind of stuff, and I really did,” said Dennis.

But it took a wakeup call for Dennis to turn his life around. “I did get arrested for drugs in 1991, and I got sent to cottonwood at the boot camp program back then. That's how I ended up getting sober."

After getting sober, he knew he wanted to help others in the struggle of addiction. "When I got out of cottonwood I went to college." He became an addiction counselor, but Dennis and his wife Beverly decided they wanted to go about recovery a different way, "What could we do different, that's when we decided to start Change Point,” he said.

Change Point is a recovery center that offers specialized care for people struggling with addiction and mental health. "I didn't know that I could live a life like I do now, so we try to carry that message to others." And Dennis himself has become an example for many others, struggling with addiction. "A lot of people say, why did you stay sober so long? And it's because there's no half way for me, I'm a true addict. I have the disease and it's chronic, and I want to live."

Change Point is one of several recovery agencies in the LC Valley... As well as members of the community, and leaders supporting the hands across the bridge event. It starts at 6:00 p.m. People will gather at the pedestrian overpass near 5th street and the levee bypass. Everyone is invited. The event is working to break the stigma that surrounds addiction and helping to build a community around recovery.

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