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Grants to support drug recovery group, education series

Every week in Clark County, an average of 25 to 30 individuals overdose. About 10 of those people are taken to the emergency room, the rest are administered Narcan by a first responder or friend.

Last year, 17 people in Clark County died of drug overdoses, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy’s 2017 overdose fatality report.

These daunting statistics show the impact of the opioid epidemic in the community.

Now, two separate community groups are working to attack the problem on different fronts: by working directly with the individual who has overdosed and by educating parents and guardians on what to look out for with their children.

Both initiatives are being funded by What’s Your Ambition?! grants from The Greater Clark Foundation.

Peer support

“We know what it’s like to be in the midst of recovery,” said JuaNita Everman, co-founder of Achieving Recovery Together. “We are people in recovery helping people stay in long-term recovery. It’s a passion for us.

“When we share our stories of addiction, deaths of loved ones and our daily struggles, people feel like they aren’t being judged and are in a safe place.”

Achieving Recovery Together (ART) was founded this year and is based on models used at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville and in Rhode Island.

Through its “Angel Program,” peer support specialists visit with every patient who has overdosed at Clark Regional Medical Center. ART offers counseling and provides information about recovery meetings, rehabilitation and detox options, and ALANON meetings.

These mental health and addiction workers are also in recovery themselves and have experience with a psychiatric disorder, such as PTSD, depression or addiction. They lean on this experience to help clients.

In addition, ART is working with the Clark County Health Department to reach out to people who have overdosed, but didn’t go to the hospital, as well as to provide information to clients of the needle exchange program.

ART also offers long-term recovery coaches who walk side-by-side with clients to actively prevent a relapse from happening. Coaches act as a counselor, sponsor and coach, and are available to clients 24/7.

ART will use the 90-day timeframe of the grant to build and test a new volunteer program, as well as intervention and data-gathering processes.

If these new initiatives prove successful at the end of the grant period, ART plans to utilize the lessons learned in efforts to reach more Clark Countians dealing with addiction.

Community education

Working upstream of the epidemic, the Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) and Bluegrass Community and Technical College (BCTC) Winchester-Clark County campus are presenting a three-part educational series to build awareness of the issues affecting the community’s youth.

Parents and guardians are invited to attend the following presentations:

— “Hiding in Plain Sight,” Sept. 13. Learn the latest drug trends and information about paraphernalia, as well as how to recognize the early signs of drug use.

— “The Dangers of Social Media,” Nov. 8. The presentation will look at the effects of social media on our youth, such as unrealistic body images, the consequences of portrayals of “ideal” lifestyles and the hazardous consequences that often stem from the pressure to fit in.

— “Bullying/School Violence,” Jan. 14. Information presented will help adults learn to identify bullying behavior and the threat of school violence.

Presenters include Kentucky State Police, a psychiatry specialist, a community pastor and County Attorney Brian Thomas.

All presentations will include a free dinner for participants and will be hosted at BCTC, 2020 Rolling Hills Lane. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 6:15 p.m.

Local groups will also offer booths with information on topics relevant to the presentation.

For more information, visit ClarkAmbition.org or call 859-355-9054.