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Columbine survivor speaks at Wabash Valley Alliance's 80th Anniversary

Wabash Valley Alliance celebrated its 80th anniversary tonight.

Posted: Oct 26, 2018 11:34 PM
Updated: Oct 29, 2018 9:58 PM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Wabash Valley Alliance celebrated its 80th anniversary tonight.

The company says it was time to make sweeping changes.

And this included the inaugural "Valley Summit" for mental health.

The event was full of surprises including the keynote speaker.

"Literally everything we use in our lives today is designed to be addictive," said Austin Eubanks.

Eubanks is talking about mental health.

He is a survivor of the Columbine High School massacre and a recovering addict.

"The first time I was inebriated from a narcotic was immediately after the Columbine shooting," said Eubanks.

Eubanks was shot in the library along with fellow classmates.

He says he was in complete shock.

"I was immediately drawn to that feeling because of how effective those substances were on relieving my emotional symptoms," said Eubanks.

Those symptoms are what Wabash Valley hopes to fix.

The company is stepping up their role as a community leader.

"We're going to retool to be intensive, to nonintensive, to have people just check-in and provide the service that they need," said Tom Gilliom.

Gilliom has been CEO for one year, but he says he is ready to help do his part to fix drug addiction.

"Here we are," said Gilliom. "Come in. Whether it's through billboards, public service announcements, through getting the word out to emergency departments and to criminal justice systems we want to be out there to be accepting. The second part is to be quickly accepting, so if somebody says I wanna come in, boom, we get them in the door."

To make finding the door easier for Wabash Valley Alliance the company is debuting all new signage.

It wants to be more visible and offer more educational services.

It echoes exactly what Eubanks says.

"I think the most important part is educating the community and bringing people together," said Eubanks. "Addiction hides in darkness."

The darkness is something both Wabash Valley Alliance and Eubanks say is vital to get out of.

"It is okay to come in for services," said Gilliom. "This problem affects everyone."

"Seek help because there are people who have walked the line before you who can show you the road and there is a better life on the other side," said Eubanks.

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