For 13 years, Jamie Richey took nearly every wrong turn a young man could take.
His substance abuse derailed his education at Itawamba Community College. He squandered scholarships and crashed his career aspirations. He survived overdoses and suicide attempts.
Now in recovery and working to help others find a path out of addiction, he will share his story in a 6 p.m. Wednesday presentation, “Addicted: The Extra Mile to Recovery” in the W.O. Benjamin Fine Arts Center auditorium at the ICC-Fulton Campus.
“There’s a reason I survived,” Richey said. “I know I had to go through everything I went through so I could help other people.” The presentation is free and open to the community. High schools and churches have been invited to attend.
It’s an opportunity for ICC students to hear from someone who walked the same campus they do and dealt with the same pressures they face, said Chad Case, director of house and residence life.
“His story is remarkable,” Case said. “It’s a success story, thankfully.”
Richey started drinking when he was 13 years old. His substance abuse deepened as he struggled to deal with his father’s death. He used heroin for a decade. His education faltered and he ended up shelving his aspiration to become a respiratory therapist.
At the worst, he was so desperate and hopeless that tried to kill himself. He ended up in jail, where he took his first steps toward sobriety. He has stepped through treatment and guarded his recovery for nearly two years.
“It helps me to share my story,” said Richey, who now works for Extra Mile Recovery in Mantachie. “Maybe it will encourage someone else to get help or deter them from starting in the first place.”
The medical and mental health communities now widely regard substance abuse disorder as a chronic medical condition that people need support, coaching and care to address.
“I want to erase the stigma that recovery is something to be ashamed of,” Richey said.