Young professionals join fight against drugs

By: Paige Quiggins Email
By: Paige Quiggins Email

MANCHESTER, Ky. (WYMT) - Law enforcement officials said more lives have been lost to overdoses than in car wrecks in Kentucky recently.

Some young people wanted to know how they can help fight the drug epidemic in the region.

Young Professionals of East Kentucky members came to Chad's Hope rehabilitation center in Clay County to hear from people who have battled addiction and are turning their lives around.

They said they came to hear the stories of former addicts, like Robert Sommers from Muhlenberg County.

“Meth, the drugs had taken me down a road,” said Sommers.
“A hopeless, desperate place where I mean I really didn't even want to live.”

Sommers, 41, said he abandoned his wife and three children and lost a business he once ran to drugs. He said he was lucky to have family who cared enough to help him seek treatment.

Each person said rock bottom is different to the individual.

Others who had fought methamphetamine, the so called “devil drug,” echoed the same sentiment.

“I was homeless, my family didn't want nothing to do with me,” said Direck Marlow.
“I was just trouble.”

They said it is important to understand it affects more than those who deal with substance abuse.

“I don't think there's a single issue facing eastern Kentucky more important than the drug problem,” said Jonathan Gay of YPEK.

Gay said he thought it would be helpful for people to see the “face of addiction” to understand it can happen to anyone.

“I have got a daughter that I didn't really have anything to do with much I was so worried about getting high,” said Marlow.

Marlow and Sommers said treatment was in a four-phase program at their facility and it helped to be around people who could identify with them.

“This just doesn't affect me and I am seeing that,” said Sommers.

Sommers said seeing people in the later phases when he first came in "gave him hope." He said he hoped to pass that on to those who came in after him.

Officials said it takes a community to fight the epidemic which has destroyed the lives of many families.

“It's an opportunity for them to see organizations that are doing a lot of good in our community and possibly give back to those organizations,” said Gay.

Dan Smoot of Operation UNITE who spent several years in law enforcement said he believes it is important to advocate that treatment is the only answer to battling addiction. He said treating addiction helped to fight the war on drugs.

“For many years we have tried to lock them up and forget about them,” said Smoot.
“It doesn't work.”

Smoot said the goal was to get people functioning in society, working and raising their kids.

A new facility is being added to Chad’s Hope, which Director Mike Leonard said should be complete by December. That facility will be used to teach vocational skills so when individuals complete the one year treatment program, they will also have resume experience to find jobs.

Those in recovery said they believed it was the only answer.

“Not everybody in jail wants help,” said Marlow.
“It takes a group of people working toward the same goal.”

Marlow said sharing his stories helped him, too.

“I hope that me talking to people can help them realize that they do not have to go down that road,” said Marlow.
“It may not be too late—you can get help, you can find a way out.”

Chad’s Hope is one of several places that operation UNITE offers a voucher program to get treatment for those who qualify. To learn more, just log onto HTTP://OPERATIONUNITE.ORG or

Another forum was also held tonight at Karen's Place in Louisa, Ky. YPEK officials said these were the first forums held concerned rehabilitation.

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