Raleigh man relates arduous battle with heroin addiction

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Jesse Bennett is a recovering heroin addict who has stayed clean for five years.

Addiction to heroin and opioid painkillers is an epidemic in North Carolina. On Wednesday evening, ABC11 is hosting a town hall, taking the conversation from our daily news coverage of the crisis, to a community conversation focused on providing help and finding solutions.

Jesse Bennett will be one of the panelists. He is a recovering heroin addict who admits, he should not be alive today. He says he overdosed several times, but it did not stop him from using heroin.

"I literally had a reversal in the back of an ambulance, went to the hospital, and walked out of the hospital using," Bennett said.

Eventually, Bennett made it to the Healing Transitions recovery program in Raleigh.

"When I got there, they said, 'this is a really easy program, you only have to change one thing.' And I was like - 'I can do that' and I said 'what is it?' and they said 'you've got to change everything,' " Bennett told ABC11.

RELATED: Opioid-related deaths increase by 73% in NC from 2005 to 2015

Now he has been clean for five-and-a-half years and is working at Healing Transitions. Bennett says it is a peer-to-peer program that produces results.

"Everyone is responsible for their own recovery, but we're not alone and we are all in recovery together, but everyone's recovery doesn't look the same," Bennett says.

Bennett is pursuing a degree in social work at N.C. State University. He is married and has two young children.

"My family keeps me clean," Bennett said. "Really just going out and being able to help people, so not only helping people in recovery and also helping people in active addiction."

MORE: What to do when you think a loved one is using heroin

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