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The Voice of the Black Community


TROSA graduates prepare for new lives
Published Tuesday, February 6, 2018
by Staff Reports

DURHAM – By the time he had gone through eight surgeries, beginning with a back operation when he was a teen, Caleb Knox felt the strong pull of painkillers. Eventually, while attending N.C. State University, he realized he had become addicted. And later, when he started stealing from his family, he figured he was headed to jail.

But only after he was arrested on larceny charges and faced the prospect of prison did Knox finally get serious about treatment.

As a condition of probation, he entered Triangle Residential Options for Substance Abusers, better known as TROSA, in Durham. And on Sunday, Feb. 11, he will graduate from the two-year residential program, thankful for its help in putting his life back in order.

“I’m pretty focused on getting a job and living a stable life,” said Knox, 28, one of 31 people to graduate Sunday. “I’m hoping to gain the trust back from my family. I lost a lot of respect, but I’m hoping to gain that back by leading a clean, normal life.”

An estimated 500 people currently participate in the program, including many like Knox who sought help for addiction to opioids. At one point, he says, every penny he earned as an agricultural pest control consultant went for drugs. “I loved the way they made me feel, the escape from reality they gave me, and it turned to an addiction,” he said

But TROSA was well established long before the opioid epidemic hit, and and it serves people with a variety of substance use disorders.

The nonprofit operates at no charge to the individual. Residents receive evidence-based therapy, job training, peer counseling and access to health care. The program also assists with housing and transportation for the transition back into the community.

Residents come from all backgrounds and life situations. At age 62, Michael Early, who also will graduate Sunday, was a blues and gospel pianist and radio announcer. During his 30 years of using drugs and alcohol, he tried several short-term treatment programs, to no avail.

“I thought I’d probably just die using drugs and alcohol,” he said. “I had given up on life.”

Finally he decided to try TROSA’s long-term approach.

“It was exactly what I needed – just to get out of my usual surroundings and away from being around drugs,” Early said. “To be able to get here was humbling, but I was open to what they were teaching, the classes and the assignments, and it helped to build me back up to the person I knew I could be.”

Early plans to remain with the program as a post-graduate. He enjoys being in house management and counseling younger residents. “I tell them, ‘If you don’t get it straight now, you’re going to be just like me. Do you want to be 62 years old in a facility trying to get your life right?’”

What: TROSA graduation

When: Feb. 11, 3 p.m.

Where: TROSA campus, 1820 James St.

Contact: Jeff Stern, director of business operations, 919-419-1059, 919-730-1722, jstern@trosainc.org



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