FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - Officials from the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentuckians in recovery and recovery advocates were part of 300 who took part in the Walk for Recovery march on Wednesday at the Capitol Building.
Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, told the crowd on the front steps of the Capitol that for the first time in years, there was good news on the number of Kentuckians who died of a drug overdose.
“We saw a reduction of about five percent in overdose deaths across the nation, but in Kentucky we went down 15 percent,” he said. “That’s 233 families that didn’t have to lose a loved one. That’s 233 Kentuckians who are still with us.”
Jason Roop says he has been in recovery since 2013, when he showed up on the steps of the Isaiah House in Washington County with a trash bag of clothes.
“I was arrested 18 times in my 17 years of addiction, overdosed four time, was raided by the police twice and became homeless,” Roop told the crowd. “I surrendered and gave my heart to Jesus, found my scripture, Isaiah 43:19. It says, ‘Behold I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth. Do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.’”
He said he clings to that scripture, “Because that was what I wanted, rivers and a way in the wilderness.”
Roop says he graduated from treatment in 2014, got married, worked for Isaiah House, then got an opportunity at Campbellsville University, as director of the technology training center. He also serves as pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Campbellsville.
Operation Unite’s Nancy Hale said they need to have this celebration every day. “We’re not just celebrating recovery from addiction today. We are celebrating recovery of hope, of happiness, of a meaningful life. We are celebrating the recovery of purpose.”
Gov. Matt Bevin also attended the event and said if there is a single word to take away from the event, it is hope.
“There is hope for people, and there is nothing that feels more hopeless than somebody who is lost in addiction,” he said. “I would hope that people take away an understanding not only that there is hope, but that that there are any number of people, in state government and out, that want to come alongside them and help them find a way forward.”
Bevin added, “There are a lot of lives touched by this. Every single family in America is touched directly or indirectly by this, including my own. I think it’s important to be very honest as a society about the fact that this has affected millions and millions of people. The sooner we put our arms around it, the sooner we’ll be able to truly address it.”