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Woman completes drug recovery, supports bill ensuring ‘recovery ready’ communities

Published: Jan. 29, 2021 at 5:33 PM CST
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - The CDC says overdose deaths are accelerating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Kentucky lawmakers are aiming to alleviate this crisis here in the state with the support of fellow Kentuckians who have recovered from substance use.

“So many people do not know that there is a way out of this,” said Desiree Powell of Bowling Green, advocating alongside the Kentucky Comeback campaign.

Thankfully for Powell, she found her way out of the drug abuse that so many have found themselves stuck in.

Powell was incarcerated in 2017 for a year on drug charges. She said she was surprised by the few options her fellow inmates thought there were for themselves.

“When I was incarcerated, I found it shocking how many people did not know about recovering and really did not know, there was another way of life,” she said.

After being released, Powell ventured to Florence, Ky. for a year-long recovery program at Brighton Recovery Center.

“It really changed my life,” she said.

Sponsored by Rep. Adam Bowling (R-KY), Recovery Ready Communities, House Bill 7, seeks to establish a council that would develop a framework for local prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.

“To try to pair individual communities, whether that be a city or county or, or them coming together with the resources that are working in other communities across the Commonwealth,” said State Rep. Michael Meredith (R-KY), Chair of House Committee on Local Governments where the bill is currently at right now.

As overdoses have claimed the lives of 7,800 Kentuckians since 2015, lawmakers say the legislation wouldn’t only save lives but has the potential for less strain on the justice system.

“If you can prevent early enough, then you hopefully won’t have them interacting with law enforcement to start with. If they do have a substance abuse problem, hopefully, you catch it and you get them into treatment before it becomes a huge problem,” said Meredith.

That proof is in Powell’s story as she remains over three years sober and now working at Rivendell Behavioral Health Services of Kentucky. She says the need for program awareness and support in Kentucky can never be enough.

“I’m so thankful that they did give me a second chance in life because you know, now I get to help people every day and I get to see people grow and get better and give them the experience strength, and hope they need,” said Powell.

Meredith says when they get back to Frankfort on Wednesday, the committee intends hearings on the local agenda for a total of three bills slated for that day, including House Bill 7. He adds that he doesn’t know how fast the floor process will move but says it will likely be in committee unless something unforeseen happens next week.

Other bills related to recovery and criminal justice reform have recently been filed including House Bill 25 which removes the requirement that an eligible high school student and eligible postsecondary student not be convicted of a felony for KEES eligibility. House Bill 126 increases the felony theft threshold from $500 to $1,000. Senate Bill 36 returns discretion to local prosecutors and local judges in local communities, instead of creating an automatic transfer of minors in certain cases from District to Circuit Court.

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