Addiction to substance abuse is a reality for many people in the Big Country ... but so is recovery.
The community learned about resources that are available to put people on the right path during the "Pathways to Recovery Symposium," hosted by the Abilene Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.
More than 20 agencies came together to offer hope to those struggling with addictions.
People also heard from two members of the community who shared their success stories.
Joe Almanza, 58, was addicted to heroine. When he was using, all he wanted someone to tell him was that he mattered to them.
He's been sober for more than 30 years and said he couldn't have done it alone.
"Two is better than one because if one falls, the other picks him up," Almanza said. "We were made to be around people. The more people you have surrounding you, the better you are in recovery."
Fellow recovery champion – 21-year-old Jennifer Carpenter – agreed.
"I was helped and influenced and learned the most from people who were able to tell me about their experiences – and it made me feel they could relate to me," Carpenter said.
Carpenter said if she could do it, anyone can.
"Well, I was a mess and a half," she said. "And I am where I am today through the grace of God and love and support of other people."
"It's not an easy battle," Carpenter said. "It takes a lot to get to a point where you realize you have a problem. It's one day at a time, one minute at a time, if a day is too much."
Carpenter said she is getting her master's degree in social work so that she can help people who are like she was.
The symposium also included panel discussions and group sessions, where people could share their experiences and learn from one another.
To learn more about the Abilene Regional Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, call 325-673-2242.