Ten Years Later
It's been 10 years since we lost Casey to the disease of addiction. I don't know where those years have gone or that there could possibly have been 10 of them. I do know that it will not matter how many years pass. I will always grieve for him and miss him terribly each and every day of my life. My heart will be broken forever.
As I reflect on the past 10 years, I am encouraged by the strides we have made in raising awareness about the disease of addiction so that treatment and recovery resources are becoming more accessible. I said more accessible, not nearly as accessible as the need requires. We now have 10 Recovery Kentucky centers in operation, 5 for men and 5 for women, with plans for 4 more in the hopefully, the very near future. That's currently 1,000 beds that were not available 10 years ago.
Intervention has become a more familiar word because of the television program by the same name. So, whether or not families choose to use this tool to get their loved one into treatment, at least the family is aware that the option exists and more importantly the correct protocol for a successful intervention. That's more than I knew when we learned of Casey disease. This is another step in the right direction.
The number of petitions filed for Casey's Law have continued to increase meaning that more families are aware of this intervention tool that became effective July 13, 2004 in the state of Kentucky and are using it for the benefit of their loved ones. I know that we now have more people living with addiction rather than dying from it in part because of Casey and the law that was inspired by his life and death.
I have grieved by being an activist, an activist that has been blessed by the many individuals who have traveled this road with me for the past 10 years. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of Transitions, Inc. My office is now in the building for which I was hired to build community support, Transitions Grateful Life Center. It is a blessing to be greeted by the smiling faces of young men who, while they remind me so much of Casey, have an opportunity that was not available to him 10 years ago.
My goal of having a program about addiction on television has been realized in the past 10 years as I have served for the past 6 as co-host and host of a community cable show called "Guide to Feeling Better". It is produced by Mental Health America of Northern Kentucky's Mental Health and Substance Use Awareness Committee and sponsored in part by Transitions. It is my honor and privilege to interview some of the most knowledgeable and impressive individuals who are known locally and nationally as experts in the field of mental health and substance use disorders. Now, families have more access to programming on topics directly related to the disease of addiction. Our programs can be viewed on local community cable stations and are archived online at www.guidetofeelingbetter.org
And there's more. . . . More rallies for recovery in recognition of September's National Recovery Month are being hosted around the country. Transitions will host it's third rally this month on Saturday, September 15th in Shelter #2 at Pioneer Park from 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.
This year will be the first of the National Anti-Heroin Rally & Memorial in Northern Kentucky held at the Amphitheater in Devou Park on Saturday, September 15th from 10:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.
The 3rd Annual Vigil will be held on Thursday, November 8th at 7:00 p.m. at Transitions Grateful Life Center. This vigil is sponsored by Transitions and PEACE (People Enduring Addiction Consequences Everyday). Our PEACE grief support group has been in existence for 9 of those 10 years and continues to gain members. We are grieved by the death that brings a family to us but grateful when they find comfort and healing with our love and support.
This coming Thursday an independent documentary, "Cole", will be shown at Transitions Grateful Life Center at 7:00 p.m. It's a story of friendship and loss. It's a story that puts a face on addiction, opens the door to conversation about the disease and honors the life that was taken because of it.
All of these are examples of steps we can take to eradicate the shame, stigma and discrimination that surrounds the disease of addiction. These are the barriers that keep addiction a secret and people sick. We must break this vicious and deadly cycle because if nothing changes, nothing changes.
I am so very grateful that there have been changes, life-saving changes. Thank you for whatever you have done and continue to do to further awareness of this disease and in doing so increase prevention, treatment and recovery resources for other families.
Until next time. . . .