Hundreds rally for recovery at LaGrange Breaking Every Chain event

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 16, 2015

By Tyler H. Jones

Senior Trooper George Cotton of the Georgia State Patrol addresses a crowd at the Break Every Chain addiction awareness event Saturday in downtown LaGrange. Trooper George Cotton of the Georgia State Patrol addresses a crowd at the Break Every Chain addiction awareness event Saturday in downtown LaGrange.

Tyler H. Jones | Daily News

LaGRANGE — More than 100 people stood solemnly Saturday on Lafayette Square to show their support for those recovering, and seeking to recover, from drug addiction.

The Break Every Chain event hosted speakers, including local law enforcement, addition recovery specialists and counselors, and those who’ve battled dependence first hand.

Senior Trooper George Cotton of the Georgia State Patrol, one of the speakers, knows how addiction to drugs and alcohol can impact lives. As a drug identification specialist and patrolman, he’s seen too often the devastating consequences of poor choices, he said.

“I choose to be a law enforcement officer because I love people,” he told the crowd. “I used to be a D.A.R.E officer, because I like starting with young people to help them become better citizens.”

Cotton shared a story about an 18 year old who crashed his car after drinking and driving.

“When I saw his vehicle, I was sure there was no way he was going to make it,” Cotton said. “When I arrived at the hospital, I was surprised to find him alive. He told me he’d been drinking all day … and he’d gone back to a friend’s house. He was waiting to hook up with a girl and decided to go to the store when he crashed.”

Cotton went on to say the man had been driving about 80 mph when he ran a stop sign, went off the road and struck three trees. At first, Cotton said, the young man wasn’t ready to admit he’d had too much to drink to be able to drive.

“But then the reality hit him, and he had that moment,” Cotton said. “The first step to fixing a problem is admitting it’s a problem.”

Other speakers included Troup County Sheriff James Woodruff, who lamented the fact that he deals with families in crisis from addiction on a daily basis.

“I would venture to say about 70 percent of the people in jail right now are there because of some factor that relates to drug or alcohol addiction,” he said. “I deal with families every day who come and talk to me about their children and tell me they have drug addiction problems.”

The event also featured speakers who talked emotionally about their faith, and how it’s led them to recover from drugs or help others to recover.

Kim Neese, a licensed therapist and Christian counselor, shared her personal story of how addiction impacted her family.

She spoke of how her family’s faith was shaken as addiction came as a cloud over their daily life, but how their faith rallied them and brought them together in their dark hour. She encouraged others to seek help if they’re struggling with substance dependence.

“Choose life,” she said. “Ask, cry or scream for help. There are people here to help.”

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.