The Tennessee Department of Health has chosen a Lebanon woman to be one of its “Faces of Opioids” representing Wilson County.
The Tennessee Faces of Opioids are a collection of individuals chosen to share their stories about opioid struggles, addictions and recovery in order to “put a face on the epidemic.”
In 2017, Tennessee had more than 1,200 overdose deaths, and more than six million painkiller prescriptions in 2018. In Wilson County, more than 37 million opioid pills were distributed to pharmacies between 2006 to 2012.
Jessica Stanley of Lebanon said she is three years clean after a long battle with opioids, and was chosen as the Wilson County “face” of opioids. Stanley said she was stuck in a cycle of jail and rehabilitation.
“I had overdosed three times, and I knew I was going to die. And it was scary when I accepted that,” Stanley said.
The strain of addiction led Stanley’s mother to tell her she wasn’t allowed back home, which led to Stanley traveling to East Tennessee to stay at the Oxford House, a sober living facility. She said the move was initially a difficult one.
“I thought a lot of people didn’t relate to me, and I didn’t know anybody,” she said. “I had been wanting to leave one day to go back home, but all the girls at the halfway house said, ‘Just go to this meeting.’ And while I was there, I heard a young man who was just like me, celebrating a year clean, and he literally told my exact story. It was like something went off, and that’s when I knew: Maybe people really have been through what I went through.”
Stanley now lives in East Tennessee and is a therapeutic assistant in the Cornerstone of Recovery’s Newcomer program. Since 1989, Cornerstone has provided guidance to people who are struggling with addiction and recovery.
Many of the Cornerstone staff members are in recovery themselves, according to Steve Wildsmith of Cornerstone.
Stanley said she hopes to have the impact on others that her treatment centers had on her. In the community, she’s involved in projects such as the International Overdose Awareness Day. She uses her journey to recovery — specifically her intake photo — as a means of displaying what recovery could do for clients.
“I want them to know that it’s OK to be honest,” Stanley said. “I want everyone to understand that together, we can recover.”