Be thankful for positive steps concerning drug crisis

Published 6:38 am Saturday, November 3, 2018


Boyle County ASAP

It is time for some good news. As a result of troubling recent national events, it is easy to become despondent and miss some promising news related to the drug crisis. It is terribly difficult to express sadness and concern, and simultaneously experience gratitude for good things happening. 

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The month of November brings with it the celebration of Thanksgiving. This holiday gives us the opportunity to pause and be thankful for what is good and hopeful, even as we acknowledge many concerns for problems around us. America’s early settlers certainly did not live in a perfectly safe or easy world; but the legacy of the first Thanksgiving gives us a model for the importance of giving thanks for our blessings.

Gratitude is a practice that has been studied by neuroscientists. We now know that practicing gratitude — looking purposefully for blessings — contributes to better mood and life satisfaction. We also have learned that intentionally practicing gratitude regularly and consistently builds an emotional and spiritual resilience which helps us get through the tough times.

Focusing on positives rather than negatives helps people with addictions and mental health problems maintain recovery. Recognizing blessings in spite of ongoing stress also brings strength to those who live with loved ones in active addiction. Not only does neuroscience support the value of practicing gratitude, but all of the world’s great religions address the importance of being thankful.

As our community continues to address drug addiction and turn this crisis around, we do have some progress to celebrate. Some positives are coming from the national level; some are right here in central Kentucky. All give us hope. 

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar announced that it strongly appears that opioid overdose deaths may have begun to level off in late 2017 and continue into 2018.  Simultaneously, prescriptions for the overdose reversal medication Naloxone have increased significantly.

Also last week, President Trump signed the comprehensive Support for Patients and Communities Act, which will address the opioid crisis across the country by improving access to treatment and more strongly supporting law enforcement. It is particularly heartwarming that there was widespread bipartisan support for this bill; and we in central Kentucky are thankful for the work of our senators and Rep. Brett Guthrie. 

Locally, we are grateful for the following blessings:

• A new sober living home has opened in Boyle County, with more soon to come.

• More than 6,000 used needles have come in through the Syringe Exchange Program, operated by the Boyle County Health Department. Public safety and public health are positive outcomes of this program.

• New adult mentors for at-risk kids in our local schools continue to step up to give of their time and their talents to build life-changing relationships.

• There are currently more alcohol and drug addiction recovery support groups in Boyle County than ever before. In addition, a new support group for family members living with someone in active addiction has recently formed.

• People in need of treatment are using a variety of available resources to receive treatment, and begin recovery and productive family and work life. Their recovery stories inspire us all.

• More people are properly disposing of their unused medications, thus, removing availability to children and youth.

• The jail consultants’ final recommendations will soon be released. The report will undoubtedly help Boyle and Mercer officials address better the relationship of addiction to incarceration.

• The local faith community has more strongly than ever stepped up to educate, pray and work across denominational lines to address the disease of addiction.

As we express our gratitude for these positives in our community, a November event is planned to say “thank you” in a big way to an extended list of First Responders. For the third year, Hope Network and Boyle County ASAP will be serving lunch to staff of law enforcement, EMS, social services, the jail, Probation and Parole, Ephraim McDowell’s emergency room and others whose jobs are complicated by the drug crisis. We will be pausing on Nov. 15 — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at “The Showroom” — to honor those who save lives and give us hope every day. 

When you see our first responders, or any of our community members involved in the above-mentioned progress on the addiction crisis, please express your thanks. And enjoy the benefits of gratitude by having a Happy Thanksgiving!

Kathy L. Miles is coordinator for the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy.