KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — It's a constant battle, with Knox County records showing more than 1,300 people dying of a suspected overdose since 2021.
Brian Welch, a co-founder and guitarist for Korn, used to be locked up in the "cage of addiction," as he calls it. He broke free about 18 years ago. Now, he's trying to help others who may be struggling.
"It really is a cage. Because it's like, it's so powerful and the lock is just almost impossible to break free from," Welch said. "I don't want any praise from people or anything. I just, I know the darkness of that feeling. So, I just want people to be free from that feeling."
Renew Clinic is a faith-based group that featured Welch at its annual conference on Friday. Welch shared his own experience and people had the opportunity to meet him.
"Renew Clinic is helping to combat the drug and opioid issue that we have in our community," said Sarah Keel, executive director of Renew Clinic. "On average, a person, if you look at the numbers, you know, one person every day in Knox County is dying of an overdose."
Charme Allen, Knox County's District Attorney General, said she has seen success this summer in taking large quantities of drugs off the streets. She said the "313 Initiative" plays a significant role in it.
In mid-July authorities seized almost $500,000 in drug money, and made 173 arrests specifically related to Detroit who were trafficking in Knoxville, according to the DA. Law enforcement is removing guns from the streets, removing drugs from the streets, and they're altering their trade, said Allen.
"We have all kinds of initiatives, we are constantly as law enforcement and prosecutors fighting the drug problem here in Knox County," said Allen. " I know that we are removing large quantities of methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin from the streets."
Brian says it's an uphill battle and hard to overcome addiction of any form. But he also said he's proof there's a way to unlock the cage of addiction.
He travels across the country, sharing his story and how he got free.
"You have to let go of everyone, you know, that reminds you of that you're an addict," Welch said. "If you try it 100 times, then today could be 101. It could be the one, you know. So, if you're listening to the sound of my voice, it's not too late. Come on. Let's go."