Former addict talks recovery as Kentucky overdose deaths rise

PADUCAH — In light of a new state report that shows the number of overdose deaths in Kentucky has increased, a former addict at a Paducah recovery center shares his story of his journey to get clean.

The report released by the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet and the Office of Drug Control Policy shows there were 1,565 overdose deaths in Kentucky in 2017. Of those people who died, 1,468 were state residents.

That number is an 11.5-percent increase over 2016, which saw 1,404 overdose deaths.

The report shows McCracken County had eight overdose deaths last year. Surrounding counties all had less than five. Meanwhile, the Kentucky county with the most overdose deaths last year was Jefferson County with 426. That’s an increase of 62 deaths from 2016.

Ryan King, of Hopkinsville, Kentucky, is currently getting treatment at the CenterPoint Recovery Center for Men in Paducah. He told Local 6 that on July 9, 2017, he nearly lost his life from an overdose.

“With every step I took, I started going where I couldn’t see more and more. The guy I was living with at the time rushed me to the emergency room. I thought I could walk inside. I took one step into the emergency room, and fell out on the floor and flatlined,” King recalled.

King, who had a mixture of heroin, painkillers, meth and alcohol in his system, said he was revived three minutes later. King spent the next nine days at the intensive care unit in Madisonville.

“My liver had shut down. My kidneys had shut down. When I first arrived in Madisonville, they didn’t even know exactly why I had a heartbeat anymore,” said King.

King said a month after he was discharged, he was arrested for meth possession. As part of the plea deal, he had to go into a treatment program. King said he did a couple of 30-day programs before arriving at CenterPoint on Oct. 23.

“I just came to the realization that if I didn’t do something different, I was either going to spend the rest of my life in the penitentiary or I was going to spend the rest of my life six feet underground,” said King.

King, who is now a peer mentor at CenterPoint, has been clean since Aug. 18.

“If a guy like me can get sober, anybody can get sober,” he said.

King said he is now repairing his relationship with his family, including his 11-year-old son, James.

“I’ve gone from being a person that you couldn’t even trust around you for five minutes to being a person that they trust with a key to every door in the building,” said King. “It’s given me my family back. Today, I’m a son. Today, I can be a father. Today, I can be a positive influence in someone else’s life.”

Those struggling with addiction can call 1-833-8KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357) toll-free to talk with a specialist about treatment and resources. They can also visit findhelpnowky.org to find treatment options.

For more information on the CenterPoint Recovery Center, visit its Facebook page.

Click here for the full state report on overdose deaths.

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