Clark County comes together for National Recovery Month

Published 12:42 pm Monday, September 9, 2019

It’s no secret that addiction plagues Clark County. 

Overdose deaths were up last year, according to the 2018 Overdose Fatality Report released in July. According to the latest report, Clark County had 19 overdose deaths, with a drug overdose death rate of 51.16. And overdose deaths are on the rise this year, too, Clark County Coroner Robert Gayheart previously told The Sun. 

Amber Fields, program director at Achieving Recovery Together (ART), said there’s been a dangerous rise in methamphetamine use, and she’s not so sure the epidemic is weakening its grasp on Clark County anytime soon. 

Email newsletter signup

“I wish that I could say that it’s getting better,” Fields said. “I’d like to say that I think it would be a whole lot worse if we didn’t have Narcan training and the resources that we have within our community, but this epidemic is bad.”

“The only way we can even combat that is to work together as a community,” ART Executive Director JuaNita Everman added. “We have no chance otherwise.”

It’s a complicated issue, not easily solved, Fields said, but it’s also no secret people in Clark County are trying. 

Over the years, local organizations have made a more concerted effort to tackle the opioid epidemic. The Clark County Health Department established the needle exchange program. The Clark County KY Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) provides frequent Narcan trainings and partners with several other community organizations to educate and bring awareness of the issue to the public. 

ART formed, tasking its peer support specialists with going into hospitals after someone has overdosed. There are recovery meetings nearly every night, all over town. 

For every person battling their addiction, there is someone in recovery, Fields said. And that provides hope, Everman said. 


September is the time to focus and celebrate those in recovery. 

Every September, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)  sponsors National Recovery Month to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover. 

Everman said Clark County started celebrating Recovery Month in 2016. 

“We kind of started just to celebrate those who have made it in recovery and continued long term recovery,” she said. 

Alisa Bickham, recovery coach with ART, said Recovery Month is all about bringing awareness and education of recovery and addiction to the community. Fields said it’s also about breaking the stigma. 

In 2019, SAMHSA celebrates the 30th anniversary of Recovery Month, marking three decades of spreading the message that treatment is effective, and people can and do recover every day, according to its website. 

“I think it just shows you can’t quit,” Everman said of the month’s 30th anniversary. “You gotta continue to fight.”

Through the years, Recovery Month has promoted and supported new evidence-based treatment and recovery practices, the strong and proud recovery community, and dedication of service providers and community members across the nation who make recovery in all its forms possible.

“This is the 30th anniversary, you don’t quit,” she said. “…But you feel like it a lot of times, especially when you lose one. And you think, ‘what am I doing? Why am I doing this?’ And then you think about that, ‘just one more. Yeah. Just one more.’”

Fields said she thinks people are finally beginning to realize the scope of the problem, that it is affecting people at all levels, across the board in regards to socioeconomic status, race, gender and more. 

“Our understanding of things change,” Fields said. “Addiction is still a monster… and it doesn’t discriminate.”


The 2019 Recovery Month theme, “Join the Voices for Recovery: Together We Are Stronger,” emphasizes the need to share resources and build networks across the country to support the many paths to recovery. It reminds us that mental and substance use disorders affect all of us and that we are all part of the solution. 

“It takes us all to share our resources, to work together, to kind of know what the right hand left hand is doing,” Everman said. “You can have all kinds of committees and all kinds of people trying to do something, but if you don’t know what each other’s doing, then you’re going to work better together.”

The Recovery Month observance will highlight inspiring stories to help thousands of people from all walks of life find the path to hope, health, and overall wellness.

One story in Clark County is that of Kelly Lane Hopkins, who shared her story with The Sun in June and will share it again Saturday at the showing of “Ben is Back” at the Leeds Center for the Arts. 

Fields said Hopkins’ story is a true testament to the power of community organizations coming together. It was through the support of drug court, Celebrate Recovery, ART and other organizations that helped Hopkins through her journey of recovery. 

She is now working at DV8 Kitchen and as a peer support specialist, hoping to give back and support others who are where she once was. 

Fields said it’s important for people to put a face to the testimonies as people need to remember addicts are someone’s mother, daughter, brother, sister, etc. 

“Those that don’t understand addiction, they get to see somebody that doesn’t look exactly like what they envisioned,” she said. 

Everman said she hopes sharing the stories of those in recovery gives people hope. 

“I always say show me a recovered addict, and I’ll show you a hard worker,” she said. “…  I think a lot of times people think, ‘Oh, they don’t contribute to society. They have nothing to give.’ When in actuality, if they can get in recovery… they have a lot to give back.”


Recovery Month celebrations in Clark County get bigger and better every year, Fields said, adding they might be crazy for doing so. 

Everman said a lot of organizations and businesses have stepped in to sponsor, donate or volunteer this year such as Loma’s and the Opera House, DV8 Kitchen, drug court, Catalent, Clark Regional Medical Center, the Clark County Health Department, NewVista, ASAP, Central Baptist Church, Broadway Christian Church, Calvary Christian Church, Grace Baptist Church and more.

“It’s really cool to see our community start to embrace recovery,” Everman said.

Bickham said all of the added event this year are meant to bring even more awareness to addiction and recovery through different avenues, hoping to reach audiences they might not have previously reached. 

“I think that was kind of our whole goal of expanding the rally was to reach those other populations so that we could educate and help them to understand,” Bickham said.

Events include: 

— “Ben is Back,” 6 p.m. Saturday at the Leeds Center for the Arts. In conjunction with National Recovery Month, Achieving Recovery Together (A.R.T), NewVista and the Clark County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) will show “Ben Is Back,” the story of a 19-year-old who returns to his family unexpectedly at Christmastime. The story is about the real-world opioid crisis and how it impacts families. Reserve seats at The event is free. DV8 Kitchen is catering the event. Kelly Hopkins will share her story, and Ron Kibbey with ASAP will also speak.

— Treasured ART Show, 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 18 at the Opera House. Achieving Recovery Together, Inc (ART) Treasured ART Show event features visual and literary arts. The Treasured ART Show is on display at the Opera House Gallery until the night of the event. Voting and bids are open at that time. Mike Berry from People Advocating Recovery will be speaking. Admission is free.  Loma’s is catering the event, and there will be a jazz band playing live music.

“Every piece has a little story behind it about how it relates to recovery,” Everman said of the art.

— “Just 1 More” One mile walk downtown, 5:30 to 8:30  p.m. Sept. 20 on Main Street. There will be a free spaghetti dinner from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Cairn. From 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. there will be worship, speakers, recovery stories, a kids zone and recovery support resource tables in front of the courthouse on Main Street. From 6 to 7:30 p.m., there will be the “Just 1 More” walk, guest speakers and recovery stories.

— 5K/10K Run/Walk, 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. Sept. 21 at Winchester-Clark County Bluegrass Community and Technical College. Join Achieving Recovery Together for the fourth annual Run4Recovery. This year there will be chip timing and cash prizes. There will be children’s activities and a fun run as well as music and testimonies. To register online, visit For more information, visit


A couple of years ago, Fields was driving past Speedway coming up Main Street.

She noticed all of these people were passing a man passed out on the steps who appeared to be overdosing. 

“It was like nobody was helping him,” Fields said. 

Fields pulled over; she had Narcan with her, so she got out of her car to sit the man up and stayed there until paramedics arrived.

“That was like my first experience with seeing people just completely ignoring someone who was literally dying,” she said.

Fields said she hopes people can learn to get on board with recovery and to help others in the grips of addiction. 

Fields said they can start by celebrating Recovery Month and by not judging others.

“First off, if you see somebody on the street that looks like they’re on something like, don’t just automatically judge them,” Fields said. “We don’t know what they’ve been through, we don’t know what they’re going through.”

Bickham said it’s also important for people to be aware of what’s available. There’s a myriad of resources available on ART’s website as well as ASAP’s website and more. 

“You can’t help people if you don’t know what’s available,” Bickham said. “And that’s what we’re here for.”

For those wanting to go the extra step, Everman said, they can reach out to any organization and offer help. 

“There’s so many different ways you can help,” she said. “You can volunteer. You can give financially.”

“Collect hygiene items from hotels,” Fields added. 

Community members can also take part in Narcan training. ART is also looking for volunteers to teach classes on any specific skills such as meal planning, budgeting, job skills and more.  

Everman said she also invites people to pray for the community if they are believers. 

“We need prayer,” Everman said. “Our community needs prayer.”

In the meantime, it’s time to celebrate Recovery Month, Everman said. 

“You hear all the bad all the time,” she said. “We want to share the good… we want to celebrate our recovery and let people know that that we can and we do recover.”

About Lashana Harney

Lashana Harney is a reporter for The Winchester Sun. Her beats include schools and education, business and commerce, Winchester Municipal Utilities and other news. To contact her, email or call 859-759-0015.

email author More by Lashana