WEST LIBERTY – A first glance, the photos lining a display in the Morgan County Judicial Center lobby could be portraits of loved ones or friends hanging on a wall in your home.
But the descriptions under each picture reveal a common element – they all once abused drugs.
“It shows that prescription drugs affect every walk of life – from the rich to the middle class to the poor,” said Esther Cain, chair of the Morgan County UNITE Coalition, as she studied the photos Friday, June 6.
The new Judicial Center, which opened earlier this year after a tornado destroyed much of downtown West Liberty, stands as a symbol to the hope and rebirth that is possible for those impacted by substance abuse.
“Drugs touch every family, no matter the makeup of your family,” agreed Commonwealth Attorney Brandon Ison. “The Hope Wall does give hope that you can come out of drug abuse and be a positive citizen.”
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.
The Hope Wall will remain on display through Friday morning, June 20.
“I’m glad to have the opportunity to help allow this wall to be placed in this building … for the community and other visitors who have business in the courthouse to see,” said Donna Pelfrey, Morgan County Circuit Court Clerk.
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. The wall represents a tremendous success in the lives of those individuals who have been able to rebuild their families, their lives, and are now contributing to society.
“A lot of folks give up when their family members and everyone else around them is involved in drugs,” said Billy Ousley, Recovery Coordinator for the 37th Judicial District Drug Court, which comprises Morgan, Carter and Elliott counties. “This wall provides a positive influence that recovery is possible.”
Chief Deputy Anthony Gullett noted that prescriptions drugs are “the number one problem” faced by the Morgan County Sheriff’s Office.
“It causes most problems such as burglaries and domestic (abuse) cases. It never fails, it always comes down to someone on drugs,” Gullet said. “The Hope Wall allows you to reflect on where these folks have been and what progress they have made.”
“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.”
More than 3,300 people – including 30 Morgan County residents – have entered a substance abuse treatment program using a UNITE voucher since the initiative began in 2005, Smoot said.
“Hope is the beginning of recovery,” said Sharon Tharpe, vice chair of the Morgan County UNITE Coalition. “Since UNITE has been here our coalition’s focus has been rehabilitation and recovery. The court system has been very supportive, and it makes the difference.”
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.
Anyone who has been in recovery for at least 18 months is eligible to be featured on the wall.