LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Over the past few years, there has been a number of stories about how drug addiction has crippled our community.
There is some good news, however. Kentucky officials are reporting the first statewide drop in drug overdose deaths since 2013. Experts say the decrease in numbers can be attributed to education, treatment programs, and more use of Narcan.
Rachel Washington often shares her own personal story to help bring awareness of how drug addiction can destroy lives.
“I was high in that photo. yeah definitely,” Washington said, pointing out a photo to WAVE 3 News. “The other is actually a mug shot.”
Washington doesn’t have many photos of when she was in her 20s, but the ones she does have she shares.
“It’s really awesome when people find out my story and they say, ‘I could never see you doing that,’” Washington said.
Shortly after Washington became a mother around the age of 20, she started using narcotics. It was a little of everything.
"After I had my child, prescribed pain pills," Washington said. "It progressed over a period of 19 years. To be able to try to function as well as I could, I tried heroin. Well, things got bad."
Washington lost custody of her daughter, was arrested, had no car, no job and was homeless. She nearly died several times from overdosing, but remembers Narcan saving her.
The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy recently released a report saying more than 1,333 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, down from a record 1,566 deaths the prior year. The report said the largest decrease in fatal overdoses occurred in Jefferson County.
"It's a huge win," said Charley Melson, executive director for Praxis by Landmark Recovery.
Melson said she believes the drop in numbers has to do with education and more use of Narcan, not just by law enforcement and first responders, but also the general public.
“It’s in the news,” Melson said. “We are talking about it. It’s less stigmatized. We realize it’s a disease; people need help and treatment.”
Praxis by Landmark Recovery is a 36-bed Medicaid facility offering that help and it’s typically full. Advocates say the community needs more places like it. Washington went in for recovery in 2013 and she’s been sober ever since. She shares her story in hopes to show that people can change.
"That is who I was for such a long period of time and now I get to be a role model to my daughter," Washington said. "At one point she found me on the floor dead and now I get to be her mom."
For more information on Landmark Recovery, call 866-504-8545 or click here.