Pekin calls for addiction awareness, recovery - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Pekin calls for addiction awareness, recovery

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Saturday afternoon in Pekin, Hundreds united behind a shared pain: addiction.

"Opiates have done major, major damage to communities across the country," explained Ed Betzelberger, Director of Addiction Services with the Tazwood Center for Wellness. "It's been horrible. The thing is, the disease of addiction is even bigger than that."

Those gathered shared their stories and held their own vigils, using the symbol of flowers - either for past addictions they were working through, or for loved ones lost in the process.

"We are here to help," said Pekin's Dee Harms, who lost her nephew to an overdose. "People are here to help you if you just reach out to us, because we are here to help you."

The turnout Saturday was both inspiring and troubling - a sign of all the families that have been impacted by addiction. But they're using that common thread to pull themselves together and overcome one day at a time.

For Samantha Copus of Pekin, that inspiration is what brings her to the rally. Saturday marked 32 days sober for her.

"It means a lot to me. Like I said, I haven't had this much support in a long time," she said. "So it's really...it's a big deal."

Copus says it's the support she's received that's kept her clean, and she wants to pass on what's helped her.

"I like hearing other people's stories," she said. "I like relating, I like telling my story...I didn't know this many people were going to show up, and it's really nice knowing that there's more people involved than there ever has been."

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