Anderson County Takes a Stand Against Drug Addiction

HEROES Leaving ACHS with Police AssistanceHEREOS Walking Down BroadwayHEREOS Walking Down BroadwayHEREOS Walking Down BroadwayChee Chee Rogers at ACHSKay WilsonDetective Jeremy CornishAngie HockensmithDonna Crain Drury and SOS MembersHEROES Approaching the CourthouseSigning the Court House Pillar in Memory of Those Lost to AddictionJudge Executive Orbrey GrittonCounty Attorney Bobbi Jo LewisCoroner Dr TusseyPaul and Todd BarrickFounding Members of HEROESBalloon Release in Memory of Those Lost to Addiction

Anderson County took a big stand last night against drug addiction.  The newly formed Anderson County HEROES held a walk to not only remember those lost to addiction but also to bring more awareness of the problem and end the stigma surrounding it.

Called the Crusade Against Addiction, walkers gathered at the Anderson County High School.  Many people joined the walk, including Lawrenceburg Police officers, Kentucky State Troopers, family members of those addicted, and recovering addicts.  Local officials, including County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis also walked in support of the group.

After leaving the high school and with support from local law enforcement, the group crossed Broadway and made its way eastward on the sidewalks towards Main Street. They then went north and ended at the court house where decorations were placed in honor of the event.

As the group started pouring on to the court house lawn, the effects of the drug epidemic was clearly felt.  Kay Wilson, who was the first walker to reach the court house, explained that she not only lost a nephew to drugs, but also just recently had a cousin overdose from heroin.  Others in the crowd held signs in memory of their relatives who passed away from drug use.

Lawrenceburg Police Officer Jeremy Cornish walked alongside everyone in support of finding a way to stop the drug problem.  He said, “It’s a community effort.  We’re not going to arrest our way out of it.”

After the walkers all reached the court house and received donated water from members of the Anderson County Coroners Office as well as pizza from Domino’s, a number of speakers took to the steps.  Paul Barrick, a member of HEROES, introduced the speakers and FD Robinson from Westside Christian Church lead the group in an opening prayer.  Judge Executive Orbrey Gritton spoke first.  “What does it mean to be a hero? You look it up in the dictionary, and a hero is someone that would put their personal agenda aside for the betterment of others,” Orbrey said.

He continued saying, “My greatest fear is if we do nothing to learn from the past to prepare and do something different in the future, then we are going to continue to live in the present and that’s what we have. Enough is enough.  It is time we stand together and unite…Many times things happen and we ask, why? Why do we need to do that? Why should we get involved? How about we start asking the question, why not?”

County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis was next with a plea to stop the stigma of addiction: “I want you to know from my position as county attorney that I want to focus on the end stigma part.  Everybody knows that we need to educate and we need to reach out and help people, but as far as the ending stigma, thank you for being here.  Because when you end stigma, people who suffer from addiction or family members who have loved ones who suffer from addiction, need to know that they belong.”

County Coroner Dr Mark Tussey made a very heartfelt speech, showing just how addiction can be a disease no matter what position in society you’re in: “Who gets addicted? Who has a substance abuse problem? Elvis Presley, the king of rock and roll; Michael Jackson, the king of pop; Whitney Houston, some called her the king of soul; Heath Ledger; John Belushi; Chris Farley; Prince. All of these celebrities had every convenience, every luxury, everything that money could buy, millions of adoring fans.”

He continued saying, “But they’re a lot more like us than we realize, because they still have the same human frailties and human weaknesses…If you have a disease that the king of rock and roll had, why should you be embarrassed by that? Why should you be embarrassed by the stigma? Why not say, hey, this affects everyone in our society?”

Todd Barrick then took the stage and explained that, as a recovering addict, Anderson County needs more support: “I’ve been struggling with this disease for 28 years.  I’m going to let you all know that this is a real disease and that people are dying from it…I’ve been in a community in south Florida where it is OK in that community to say that I’m an addict. There’s support in that community. I came back home to this community, and I was very scared to the fact that there are very few resources in this county.  The stigma of a drug addict in this county, it doesn’t feel very good for somebody trying to do the right thing.”

He further explained what he would like to see happen in the county: “My goal for this whole HEROES group is eventually I want to see a treatment center right here in Anderson County.  I want to see recovery meetings on every corner.  I want to see it being OK to say, hey, I’m an addict and I want help.”

Before ending the event, purple balloons were handed out to those who lost someone to addiction.  With closing remarks and a prayer from the I am CHAD group from Frankfort, the group released the balloons.  Paul Barrick, Todd’s father, added before the balloon release, “Anderson County, where we go from this night depends on us. Where do we go from here? Forward, that’s what we want to do.”

For more information about Anderson County HEROES, check out their Facebook page.  They also hold weekly meetings at Tonya’s Buffet at 6pm where anyone interested in awareness or support can attend.

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Posted in Family & Community, Health & Fitness.

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