Local organization expands its services in fight against opioid epidemic

RADFORD, Va. – Kristine Stuart, 28 is a peer recovery specialist for New River Valley Community Services, or NRVCS. 

She spends her days helping others who are struggling with substance abuse, a condition she knows all too well.

“I was unemployable. I was ugly and mean to the people I cared about and I would do anything to just get my next fix,” said Stuart. 

At an early age, Stuart found herself addicted to opioids. She said the turning point in her life came when she was sentenced to six months in jail and required treatment.

“I actually attended our (NRVCS) residential facility New Life and that was the first turning point for me. I still struggled with drinking for a while and eventually I made a change and started doing something different,” Stuart said.  

As a peer recovery specialist and product of NRVCS, Stuart is now able to share her story, offer resources and educate young adults like herself on the dangers of opioids.

“Folks like Kristine have the experience of having gone through some of these trials and tribulations. They have been there and done it all  and that relatability that they have to engage with our current clients gives them a level of credibility that a professional without that experience simply doesn't have,” said Mike Wade, communications and outreach coordinator for New River Valley Community Services. 

With the help of NRVCS, Stuart and Wade are trying to expand its services to meet the needs of the community.

“Getting help is one of the hardest things we do, but getting help is the most important,” said Stuart. 

Stuart plans to continue down her road of recovery by speaking at the vigil, hosted by NRVCS, for all individuals affected by substance abuse, which will be held at Bisset Park on Aug. 31.