By Mekialaya White

ARVADA, Colo. (CBS4) – New research shows America’s opioid epidemic has reached a never-before-seen milestone during the COVID-19 pandemic. The data from the National Center for Health Statistics shows more than 100,000 drug overdose deaths in the U.S. from April 2020 to April 2021. Overdose deaths from opioids climbed past 75,000.

Rachel Compton says she could have been a statistic. Now she stands proud and joyful, a real-life success story.

“I just celebrated two years clean and sober on Oct. 21,” she said with a smile.

She shared her journey with CBS4’s Mekialaya White from the comfort of her new home. It’s a sober home she started, where she and several other women live, through nonprofit Oxford House. The national organization helps run self-supporting addiction recovery homes, and there are more than 100 of them in Colorado. The homes offer affordable rent and a member can stay indefinitely as long as they are active in their recoveries.

“We get people in here who just need a safe and sober place to build back up their lives and work on their recoveries,” said Compton. “You’re being held accountable by your peers who have walked similar paths as you and know what you’re feeling because we’re all overcoming addiction and getting better.”

Recovery, initially, didn’t come easily for Rachel. After 10 years of battling drug and alcohol addiction, she reached her breaking point and sought help.

“I woke up one morning and was desperately looking for alcohol to make it through my work day. I was getting ready for work, I was late and I just broke down and cried. I just knew I couldn’t live one more minute the way I was living. What stopped me from getting help for so long was the shame and self-hatred. And what I want people to know about addiction is we don’t do it to purposely hurt everyone around us. We think our families are better off without us.”

With the help of her family, she went to rehab that night. Then, Oxford House came into the equation.

“Recovery is amazing. It’s absolutely amazing,” she said.

As she continues to move forward, she is thankful to lead by example, keeping her residents encouraged as they all walk their paths together.

“My best friend lives in my house and we moved in about the same time, so we have the same sober birthdays. It’s cool to actually have a legitimate friendship. And we call each other out on our stuff.”

“We are just as worthy as anyone else of being able to change and have a happy life,” she continued. “It takes a lot of hard work, but it can be done, especially in an environment like this. Whether you’re a felon or have a lapse in your work, we will help you find work. We have payment plans. We do not put a price on sobriety.”

Compton says the first step is just being willing to reach out, and there is no shame in doing so. Learn more about Oxford House at oxfordhouse.org.

Mekialaya White