ROANOKE, Va. - Nathan Austin moved to the Star City as a teenager. He played high school sports, was active with his church and graduated from George Mason University. But after he took his first sip of alcohol when he turned 21, everything changed.
"It become like a Band-Aid," Austin said. "I thought I needed it to become the person I wanted to be."
Austin was a successful forensic accountant until his addiction led him on a downward spiral. It affected his friends, his family and his job.
"I was more interested in drinking than I was in my career," Austin said. "And so I left."
Austin moved to a beach in Cambodia and lived there for nine years but his demons caught up with him.
"I was just about homeless. I was down to the last couple of dollars in my pocket. I was lost," Austin said. "It was either, I'm going to take my life or I need to change it."
In November, he moved back home, detoxed and checked into the Rescue Mission of Roanoke's Way Forward Recovery Program. It's a faith- and abstinence-based, yearlong residential addiction recovery program where people can recover, learn to reconnect with their families and community and get job training.
"We are really trying to address the needs of the whole individual: spiritual, physical, mental and emotional," said Tracy Altizer, the chief development officer of the Rescue Mission.
Altizer said the program has been helping people for 25 years. To celebrate its anniversary and ensure it can continue to help others, the Rescue Mission is holding a Rally for Recovery fundraiser to help more people like Austin
"It's a way to just really rally around this program and the people who suffer from substance use disorders," Altizer said.
It's been eight months since Austin entered the program, and he said he has learned he deserves a second chance and he's excited for his future.
"There is a way out. There is a hope," Austin said. "But I don't have to go through this world alone. There are people willing to reach out."
The Rally for Recovery starts at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 27, at the Berglund Performing Arts Theater. There will be speakers talking about their struggles with addiction and a live concert by Scott Mulvahill.
To buy tickets, click here.
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