Hope Center cheers overdose numbers showing fewer U.S., Kentucky deaths

Published: Jul. 18, 2019 at 11:15 PM EDT
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Lexington native Michael Evans said he started using opioids right around his 18th birthday.

"Started off with painkillers then it went to heroin, cocaine, crack," Evans said.

His most recent run-in with the law brought him to the Hope Center back in November. He said this time, he was willing to try something different.

"[I was] tired of going in and out of jail, tired of letting my family down. I have kids out there. I want to get back in their lives," he said.

These days, he's not only clean, but he's also working as a peer mentor, helping others at the center struggling with addiction.

"There's just nothing good about that lifestyle," he said. "Always being on the chase, on the run, always looking behind your back, always feeling down about yourself. Today I don't feel that. Today I feel happy and joyous and free."

Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show U.S. overdose deaths in 2018 likely dropped for the first time in three decades.

State reporting shows Kentucky's numbers are down, too.

It's a trend that matches what officials at the Hope Center have noticed as well.

"Actually, at intake, we do ask our clients what their drug of choice is, what they've been struggling with," and fewer of them are claiming opioids, said Hope Center Director of Development Carrie Thayer.

Thayer said there's a lot out there these days helping people struggling with addiction.

"Recovery is much more talked about and it's much more available for many," she said.

Thayer also points to the widespread use of Narcan, which she said has even been used to reverse overdoses in their own facility.

"Most in our community have [Narcan] who are out on the streets, emergency personnel, our staff. A lot of people even carry it in their purse," Thayer said.

For Evans, the latest overdose numbers are a reminder of where his old life could have easily taken him.

"I hope everyone can get off the opiates," he said. "Find this way of life. It's amazing."

More information about recovery services at the Hope Center can be found at