Promoting hope

Published 9:01 am Monday, March 19, 2018

It is well known that the use and proliferation of illegal drugs, especially opioids, are massive and continued problems are in not just the local community, but Appalachia as a whole.

The Bell County Operation UNITE, a branch of the overall Operation UNITE organization, will be hosting a special event on March 27 at the First Christian Church in Middlesboro. The theme of the event is “Aftercare: Transitioning Hope in the Community.”

According to their official website, the “UNITE” part of Operation UNITE stands for Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education. Congressman Hal Rogers began Operation UNITE in 2003 after a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader exposed the drug addiction and corruption in southern and eastern Kentucky. Operation UNITE serves 32 counties in the region which includes Bell, Harlan, Clay and Knox.

Operation UNITE has a clear mission statement. They aim to stamp out drugs in communities by spearheading undercover narcotics investigations, organizing treatment and support for substance abusers and their families, and by providing education for the public on the perils of drugs.

According to Tom Vicini, the deputy director and coalition coordinator for Region 2 (Bell, Clay and Harlan counties) of Operation UNITE, the focus of the March 27 event will be transitioning recovered addicts into the community after leaving treatment.

“When people return to the community after treatment, what they need most is hope,” he said.

According to Vicini, the support a recovering addict receives from the community is the key to their success. Resources such as employment and housing are what they need to find a foundation into their new lifestyle, and the March 27 event will feature speakers and information on the best ways to provide these services.

Dinner will be provided for the first 75 guests, as well as door prizes. Vicini will be a speaker, among others. Guests will also hear testimony from a person in recovery.

The event is scheduled to run from 6-8 p.m.