International Overdose Awareness Day recognized in Clark Co.

Published 2:30 pm Thursday, September 7, 2023

Last Thursday, Aug. 31, many individuals from different backgrounds and with various occupations gathered on the steps outside the Clark County Courthouse.

With National Recovery Month just around the corner, they recognized International Overdose Awareness Day.

Surrounded by Winchester Mayor JoEllen Reed and others, Clark County Judge-Executive Les Yates read a proclamation.

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“International Overdose Awareness Day is a global event held on Aug. 31 each year to raise awareness of overdose and reduce the stigma of a drug-related death. It further acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends remembering those who have died or have a personal injury because of [a] drug overdose,” said Yates. “We do hereby proclaim this day in recognition of Overdose Awareness Day and ask all our citizens to join us in reaching out to those with substance use disorder and bring continued healing to our community.”

Others in attendance were former Clark County Judge-Executive Henry Branham, Magistrate Robert Blanton, City Commissioners Kitty Strode and Kenny Book, and Clark County Public Health Director Becky Kissick.

The theme of 2023 Overdose Awareness Day, “Recognizing Those Who Go Unseen,” is designed to alert others of those from communities that are affected by overdose but may not garner headlines or notice.

As of last Thursday’s event, 205 overdose-related calls have already taken place in 2023, with 17 overdose-related deaths counted.

Many have taken action to try to curtail the trouble.

Among them is Lindsay Horseman, the director of recovery community services at Recovery Community Center.

Speaking toward the end of the ceremony, Horseman – overcome with emotion – addressed the crowd.

She noted seventeen white flags placed on the outdoor lawn – representing fatal victims of drug overdose – as well as purple flags to recognize others impacted.

“These seventeen flags behind me represent people that we care about; people that are members of this community that we lost,” Horseman said. “I appreciate everyone’s support. I don’t want to not recognize the major loss that that is for this community because that could’ve been me.”

In Nov. 2022, Horseman – who was then acting as program director at Achieving Recovery Together – teamed with Sgt. Monty Corbett and the Winchester Police Department to present a Law Enforcement Assisted Program.

With guidelines in place, the program allows law enforcement in Winchester and around Clark County to connect others with proper services rather than take them to jail for pre-determined charges.

It addresses certain charges, including drug and alcohol abuse.

Corbett, who also acts as a chaplain for the Winchester Police Department, spoke.

“Whether you believe it or not, this officer cares about you who are in recovery. [The] law enforcement community here in Winchester does support your recovery efforts and wants you to get back to clean and sober living,” Corbett said. “As the chaplain for the police department, I have another aspect of my want for you to get clean and healthy. It’s because, in my Christian view, everybody standing here is the same person…we are not at odds with one another. We are not against you.”

Many of those who were present on Thursday, and others, look to continue serving.

“Thank you for those who are here to help,” Corbett said. “This city is here to help; this county is here to help…take advantage of what we offer.”