Friday, June 2, 2017

Southern Kentucky weekly starts a column from a recovering addict in the same week it publishes another health testimonial

Clinton County (Wikipedia map)
From 2012 to 2015, the last year for which figures are available, 25 people died of drug overdoses in Clinton County, a community of 10,000 people on the Tennessee border south of Lake Cumberland. This spring, a local doctor was indicted on charges of illegally prescribing painkillers to six people, three of whom died in 2014. The county is among the 54 in Kentucky, out of 220 in the U.S., considered most at risk from an outbreak of HIV or hepatitis C from intravenous drug use. Clearly, Clinton County has a drug problem.

Last week, on an inside page of the weekly Clinton County News, a new column appeared, with a standing headline, "An Addict's Corner," with the subhead "the Journey of an Addict." It was written by local resident Phillip Lee, who told how he became addicted to crystal methamphetamine, lost his wife, cars and homes, lost contact with his children and grandson, and put him behind bars again and again for 17 years. "I'll get down to specific details in later articles," he wrote. "I'll tell you all I remember going through." Lee credits his religious faith for his recovery.

Alan Gibson, editor and publisher of the paper, said in an email that Lee "came to me a few weeks ago with a hand-written article in his hands. He was proposing the column in an effort to help others who might be facing addiction problems, as well as families who were dealing with problems with other loved ones. He wanted to submit the column on a weekly basis under a pen name, or either anonymously. I told him he should be able to own up to his writings and be proud of his message to others as well as his accomplishments. He pondered about 10 seconds and signed the column and left it with me." He has submitted two more. "I also offered to put his photo in the header like we do some of the other regular headers, but he opted out of that," Gibson wrote. "If it helps just one person, I'm glad to offer up the space." To read Lee's first column, click here.

In the same edition of the paper, recent high-school graduate Thomas Holsapple wrote a column for the Twin Lakes Wellness Center, describing how his family had turned its health around after the death of his grandmother, who was overweight and had been a smoker, and how he took the next step by exercising regularly at the center in Albany. "Even after the first night I could feel the energy it gave me and how it entirely lifted my spirits. . . . Keeping myself in shape and eating healthy has changes my life, and the lives of my friends and family." For his column, headlined "Health and Fitness: My Story," click here.

The Clinton County News is a hotbed of testimonials about health, which can be an effective motivator for others to get healthier. The Clinton County Healthy Hometown Coalition, funded by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, has had a regular column that often featured articles by local residents saying how they made themselves healthier. One of those was from Julie Holsapple, the mother of Thomas Holsapple.

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