Former addict overcomes addiction, becomes drug court coordinator
WISE COUNTY, Va. - Doctors, law enforcement, social workers and more gathered in Wise County to fight the worsening drug crisis in our region. News 5's Kristi O'Connor reports on how one former addict is proving to her community that you can beat addiction. Suzie Minor had it all, she played basketball on a full ride at UVA Wise and graduated with a sports management degree. Shortly after graduation she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She was prescribed a few opioids as doctors tried to find what worked. "I got hooked, and it hooked me bad," Minor said. Her doctors cut her off, but it was already too late. "I went to the streets for it, and it wasn't anything for me to spend $100, $200 a week on pills," Minor said. She wound up getting three DUI's within four months. "Breaking point? I was sitting in jail and knew I wasn't getting out anytime soon," Minor said. "I knew I'd messed up, and every time we'd go to court it kept getting continued on and on, pushed back another month." Finally, she was given the opportunity to go through drug court, a strict and rigorous recovery program. Now 31 months clean, she is about to be the Wise County Drug Court coordinator. "This is my way of giving back, to the program that gave me my life back," Minor said. It is success stories like Suzie's that more than 300 people who work for different agencies in our region are hoping to see. They came to Wise County to collaborate on ways to fight the drug epidemic. "It's in every family, it's in every economic group, it's in every demographic, it's incredibly pervasive," Commonwealth's Attorney Chuck Slemp said. Sgt. Teresa Meade with the Wise County Sheriff's office says in her 21-year-career, she's seen the drugs getting stronger. She says many coming from the China trade are laced with opioids that are potent enough to make a person overdose just by touch. "The drug cartel will actually lace the packages with carfentanil or fentanyl so if law enforcement has a bust and they touch it, its going to take law enforcement out," Sgt. Meade said. To overcome the epidemic, leaders say everyone needs to come together, to take our communities back. And Suzie Minor is proof that it is a crisis, we can overcome. "I am not ashamed that I'm an addict, things happen in life and you have to learn how to pick yourself up. Everybody gets knocked down, it's how you pick yourself up that defines the character that you have," Minor said.