JACKSON – Drug addiction is not the first thing that comes to mind when you first glance at the dozens of smiling faces displayed in the lobby of the Breathitt County Judicial Center.

DSC_0002“You look at these people and you’d never know the struggles they have faced and overcome,” commented Drema Terry, Drug Court coordinator for the 39th Judicial Circuit, as she watched Operation UNITE’s Hope Wall being set up on February 28.

Unveiled last August, the 20-foot long wall features about 150 individuals who are now in recovery and living clean, sober lives. It demonstrates that substance abuse addiction has no boundaries, that all walks of life are affected.

“It illustrates the success that can be achieved through determination and persistence,” said Chief Circuit Judge Frank A. Fletcher. “The wall humanizes our neighbors and friends who have merely encountered a detour in life.”

Providing inspiration and encouragement to seek help for an addiction, or for those currently in treatment or recovery, is the primary reason for the Hope Wall.

“It represents a tremendous success in the lives of these people,” said Commonwealth Attorney Darrell Herald. “They’ve rebuilt their lives and their families. They’re now contributing to society instead of being a drain on it. That’s a great benefit.”

“A majority of the folks featured on the Hope Wall have received a UNITE Treatment Voucher to help them overcome their addiction,” noted Dan Smoot, UNITE president/CEO. “These are people who may have otherwise continued down a destructive path of drugs.”

DSC_0003“More than 3,300 people – including 74 Breathitt County residents – have entered a substance abuse treatment program using a UNITE voucher since the initiative began in 2005,” Smoot added.

Treatment vouchers for short-term or long-term residential treatment are available to low-income residents of the 32 counties served by UNITE across southern and eastern Kentucky. For more information call UNITE’s Treatment Help-Line at 1-866-908-6483.

“This wall only represents a small percentage of the successes of the recovery efforts that we’re seeing,” said Terry, adding that drug addiction continues to have a huge impact throughout the region. “But,” she said, “when I look at this wall I see hope.”

“The Jackson Police Department has been with Operation UNITE from the very start,” commented Police Chief Ken Spicer. “Overcoming prescription drug abuse issues requires a coordinated effort, and I’m proud to have this wall in our community to show the success of UNITE’s treatment initiative.”

The wall will remain on display in Breathitt County through Friday morning, March 14.

Anyone who has been in recovery for at least 18 months is eligible to be featured on the wall.