Being a Hero By Helping Those Touched by Addiction

Judy Craft and Sherri WalkerTodd, Bonnie, and Paul BarrickCounty Attorney Bobbi Jo LewisTJ WalkerChief Deputy Coroner Steve Votaw and Sheriff Troy YoungJudge Executive Orbrey Gritton and Mayor Sandy Goodlett

A new group here in Lawrenceburg has dedicated itself to be a hero for all families and children that have been touched by addiction.  Called HEROES, the group started just a few months ago when five mothers whose children have gotten addicted to drugs decided to take action to bring hope and remove the stigma of drug addiction to families and addicts in the county.

HEROES, which stands for Helping Educate, Reaching Out, End Stigma, is working to bring awareness of the drug problem and lack of resources for addicts to the community.  Just a few weeks ago, they sponsored an awareness walk at the Legion Park where over 100 gathered as well as local officials.  They are planning to do more walks in the future including one during the July Wheels of Time Cruise-in as well as a large rally in September, called “Sharing Without Shame.”

As part of finding ways to help the community, they recently invited many county and city officials to meet with them to discuss the drug situation from both the family and addict’s point of view.  Judge Executive Orbrey Gritton, Sheriff Troy Young, County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis, Deputy Coroners Steve Votaw and Danny Caudill, Mayor Sandy Goodlett, and City Councilman Paul Thomas Vaughn were in attendance.

Sherri Walker, president of HEROES, opened the discussion.  “HEROES is a newly formed community awareness group of concerned citizens who have joined together in an effort to bring awareness, education, and support to the community about the epidemic of drugs and drug addiction that exists in our hometown,” Sherri said.

Much of the discussion involved around how little resources are available for parents and addicts in Anderson County and the surrounding area.  Two recovering addicts were at the meeting, including Sherri’s son, TJ Walker, and Todd Barrick.  Both indicated through their own experiences that there was little help for addicts here compared to other states. And what is available is either very costly or has a long wait list.  When it comes to addictions, they said that getting into rehab or a narcotics help meeting in a timely manner is what makes the difference to either get clean or stay clean.

Judy Craft, a member of HEROES as well as a parent of a recovering addict, said, that while working at the Anderson County High School counselors office, she has seen a very large drug epidemic.  “We have a problem out there.  These kids are passing Xanax bars like it’s candy,” Judy said.  She also agreed to the lack of resources available: “Sad thing is an addict in recovery cannot walk the streets of Lawrenceburg and find a [help] meeting, but they can walk on all kinds of streets and find the drugs they want.”

Paul Barrick, Todd’s father, was also at the meeting and explained his story of trying to help his son through addiction.  One night before Christmas, Todd was having a hard time and eventually caved to the addiction.  Seeing his son shooting up, Paul called 911 to see if they could bring him to the hospital or rehab immediately before it was too late.  In the end, the EMS workers couldn’t help as Todd was still conscious enough.  Paul ended up having his son arrested just so he could start the process of getting help.

The county and city officials were very responsive to try to figure out someway to help.  County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis said, “Do we need more tools? Absolutely.”  She also indicated that she very willing to help, but she doesn’t currently have a solution.

Chief Deputy Coroner Steve Votaw was also in agreement and wants to see more enforcement against drug traffickers.  “We got to take our heads out of the sand and realize that we have a serious problem in this community,” Steve said.

Sheriff Troy Young agreed to the problem with addiction: “I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and yes it’s worse now than it’s ever been.”  However, he said the sheriffs department is currently strapped with limited resources as they have to cover many other areas but are doing their best to help and was open to suggestions.  He also said, “It’s terrible to have to take a medical situation and turn it into a criminal one to get help.”

During discussions, a suggestion came up that maybe the group could use a vacant office in the health department building to start a hotline or begin the process of creating a more available narcotic help group.  Judge Executive Orbrey Gritton thought highly of the idea and will be in contact with the department.  “If we don’t stand up and do something, I can promise you nothing will happen,” Orbrey said. “Together we can win.”

As part of the process, the new group is looking to others in Kentucky for inspiration and funding ideas.  They are looking at a northern Kentucky group, called NKY Hates Heroin, for more information and to explore where they received funding.  In addition, Paul Barrick has already donated $2000 to get HEROES off the ground and to start making a major impact on the community.

For more information about HEROES, check out their Facebook page.

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Posted in Business & Government, Family & Community.

3 Comments

  1. So glad people are finally beginning to discuss this disease
    Seriously. Our son David has battled this disease for 40 years. He is in remission and active in the great program of Alcoholics Anonymous and attending meetings nearly every day/night! We have always been open about his disease and for 34 years active in AA/AlAnon and Families Anonymous in Lexington & Versailles. Thank God DENIAL is not a river in Egypt! This is a much needed mission!

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