Durham County

‘This was my way out’: TROSA graduates celebrate success in overcoming addiction

Graduate Scott Whitaker smiles as he walks across the stage at a ceremony honoring graduates of the program at Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers in Durham, N.C. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017.
Graduate Scott Whitaker smiles as he walks across the stage at a ceremony honoring graduates of the program at Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers in Durham, N.C. on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. newsobserver.com

As “Pomp and Circumstance” played, 33 graduates wearing black caps and gowns walked proudly through a packed gym Sunday afternoon to celebrate their victory over substance abuse and addiction.

Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, or TROSA, held a traditional graduation ceremony for the people who have completed its two-year residential program for those with drug and alcohol addictions. The graduates each made speeches to thank God, their friends and family, and others who helped them in their long journeys to recovery.

“I asked God to bring me a way out, and this was my way out,” graduate Kendrick Thomas told the crowd. “It’s been a long, long road. It’s been a hard road. It’s really saved my life.”

TROSA has about 500 participants who live on the nonprofit’s Durham campus and work in its operations – which include a thrift store, moving service and annual Christmas tree sales – while undergoing treatment for addiction and training for careers. The program is free to the participants and funded by private donations.

Bailey Alston, 50, said he entered the program after he survived a car accident that made him determined to “get clean” and stop using drugs. “I wanted to invest two years in myself,” he said. “I thank God for this program.”

Now that he’s completed the program, Alston says he wants to continue to work in addiction recovery programs, and he says his work helping new TROSA participants sign up in the nonprofit’s intake office was rewarding.

“After 50 years, I’ve found God’s plan for me, and that’s to help other addicts like myself,” he said.

TROSA is expanding its Durham facilities, building a $2.6 million, 10,000-square-foot building to house its health care services. The new building is under construction and will replace a cramped primary care clinic.

The nonprofit is facing increasing demand because of the opioid epidemic, and many of the program participants are recovering from addiction to heroin or other opioids.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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