Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

February 3, 2013

The mountain stands by me

Karen’s Place offers hope to those struggling with addiction

LOUISA — Overlooking the calm waters of Yatesville Lake in rural Lawrence County is a place that is offering hope, healing and deliverance for 19 women working to overcome the bonds of addiction.

They come from all walks of life: raised with both parents and single parents, rich, poor, young mothers, older, but they share one commonality — recovery.

Karen’s Place, a state-licensed residential program, uses a faith-based approach as its core, including other models like 12 steps, Narcotics Anonymous, Alcoholic Anonymous and group therapy sessions.

The facility was the dream of Tim Robinson, a local attorney who once battled with the bonds of addiction.

“I found hope through a relationship with Christ, and I wanted to create a model of therapy where faith was at its core,” said Robinson, who serves as executive director of Karen’s Place and is a recovering addict. “I think that sets us apart as our clients leave with hope for a better tomorrow through a relationship with Christ.”

Karen’s Place recently celebrated its second year, and they plan on opening new facilities in Catlettsburg and Flemingsburg this year.

A service that’s needed

According to 2010 census data, more than 86,000 children in Kentucky are being raised by someone who is not their biological parent (mostly grandparents) and a common component to broken families is addiction to prescription drugs.

With increasing rates of prescription painkiller addiction and methamphetamine, deaths related to drug addiction in Kentucky have surpassed 1,000 a year, eclipsing traffic fatalities and more than doubling the drug death toll a decade ago. Deaths related to prescription drug abuse skyrocketed from 403 in 2000 to 978 in 2009. Traffic accidents killed 791 Kentuckians in 2009.  

“It’s an epidemic and we have to do something about it in our local communities,” said Fred Mills, a certified alcohol and drug counselor at Karen’s Place. Eastern Kentucky registered a prescription drug overdose death rate of 26.3 per 100,000, which is almost twice as high as the rest of the nation.

A 2008 study by the federal Appalachian Regional Commission found high rates for both psychological distress (16.1 percent) and major depressive episodes (10.6 percent) in the coalfields region. Abuse of painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet is more than twice the national rate.

Never thought I’d be

an addict

Christina Butcher sweeps the floor as part of her post-lunch duties Friday afternoon.

“I never thought I’d be an addict,” says Butcher, who holds an undergraduate degree in psychology and Spanish from the University of Kentucky. “All it took was one time, and I spiraled down a deep hole and lost control of everything.”

The Lexington native was arrested for a second DUI charge and was placed in jail where she had to detox.

“Detoxing is never easy, and doing it in an environment like jail makes it more difficult,” Butcher added. “There’s so much going through your mind…you feel like dying.”

Her immediate family, which lives in Paintsville, intervened and linked her up with Karen’s Place. She’s been there for 16 days and admits it’s not been easy.

“When I first got here, I was upset and mad,” she explained. “I didn’t feel like I needed to be here.”

That’s a common attitude when arriving to treatment, says Dana Greider, who serves as a residential coordinator at Karen’s Place.

“We see these girls at their very worst in many cases. They are reluctant to come to therapy and many feel like they do not have a problem,” she said. “It’s amazing to see their transformation. It comes faster for some than others, but you start seeing on both the inside and out: their faces regain color, their eyes brighten up and they renew their heart, soul and spirit.”

Butcher has turned the curve in her short time there: “It’s refreshing to be sober, and I thought I’d never be able to say that again in my life.”

Breaking the stereotypes

Courtney Hager, of Ashland, shares the same sentiment of all 19 women in treatment: “I’m worried about going home.”

The 28-year-old said many dealing with addiction and recovery are unfairly stereotyped because they come from small communities where the stigma of addict is placed on those even if they are in treatment and well on the road to recovery.

“People think we choose to be this way,” she says. Many of the 19 in treatment joined the conversation, including Taylor Keller of Louisville, who admitted she was terrified of going home.

“Every time I go home, I run into the same people, the same crowd, wanting to do the same thing,” Keller said. It’s her third time in treatment, and she’s learned, among other things, she can’t go home this time around. “I will get sucked back into my old ways, and those days are behind me.”

Many of those in treatment are from small towns where news travels fast. Amanda Knack, 28, of Campton, is worried about rebuilding her life beyond treatment.

“Where am I going to work?” she asked. “Everyone in my town knows who I was, but they are not interested in who I am becoming.”

Tonya Mills, 47, of Martin County, has been in treatment multiple times. She’s looking forward to a life of being sober, but admitted dreading returning home where “the drug-heads don’t want you to be clean and almost work to bring you back into the bonds of addiction.”

 A joyful noise

The old church hymn “I Go to the Rock” is often heard through the corridors of the house, which once served as a bed and breakfast overlooking Yatesville Lake.

One of the lines in the song hits a soft part with everyone: “I run to the mountains and the mountain stands by me.”

Many at Karen’s Place call the facility “The Mountain.”

It’s secluded, and a place of serenity, says 24-year-old Sarah Woods, of South Point, Ohio.

“You can definitely feel God’s presence here,” she added. “This mountain allows us to escape the world for a while to focus on ourselves.”

Each day, the group participates in choir practice. This is a time of reflection for the women, and it is also used as an outreach. Every other week, the women perform at churches across the region and share their testimony.

“It shows our women that there’s something therapeutic in sharing their story,” Greider said. “In most cases, there are several people in the audience that can directly or indirectly relate to their story. It brings those listening to their story hope, and it allows our women to know that despite their shortcoming, that they are still loved, and that God loves them.”

Greider intertwines a message into their practice. On Friday, she spoke of the power of humility.

“If you want to do well and grow and get better, you got to get humble,” she told the group. “You cannot pretend that you know everything.”

She ended her conversation with a line from one of the final songs they rehearsed: “One little lost lamb, here I am.”

Text Only
Local News
  • Jesse Stuart Foundation celebrates 35 years

    The annual Jesse Stuart Foundation Open House from noon to 6 p.m. on Aug. 8 will be a huge celebration.

    July 28, 2014

  • 0729hagerman.jpg Hagerman talks law with Rotary

    At Monday’s lunchtime meeting of the Ashland Rotary Club, Boyd County Circuit Court Judge C. David Hagerman summed up current local legal trends — and how cases, courts and criminals have changed during his 20-plus year tenure.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Salt Lake City attorney Jesse Trentadue speaks during an interview in Salt Lake City

    Fish and houseguests both stink after three days — and much less time when a visitor pockets valuables without permission.

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728bank5.jpg Iconic Gate City bank torn down after partial collapse

    This weekend, Catlettsburg’s downtown silhouette lost one of its longest-lived landmarks.
    Demolition workers began to tear down one of the Gate City’s oldest downtown buildings following the former Catlettsburg National Bank’s partial collapse.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Study shows room for parking improvement

    It has been suggested that the parking layout along Winchester Avenue should change, bringing the city’s main thoroughfare down to two lanes.

    July 28, 2014

  • Anti-smoking tour kicks off in Ashland

    A scan in 2009 that was supposed to show doctors what was causing Deborah Cline’s eye problems by chance revealed the cancer in her lung.
    Two years later, Roger Cline watched his wife die of lung cancer. Deborah Cline was 59 and had never smoked.

    July 28, 2014

  • 0728bank5.jpg Gate City landmark demolished

    The historic Catlettsburg National Bank Building was being taken down after the front dormer window collapsed on Sunday.

    July 28, 2014 4 Photos

  • Local counties see drop in unemployment

    Boyd County was one of 117 counties that saw a decrease in its unemployment rate between June 2013 and June 2014.

    July 27, 2014

  • 0726bigboy.JPG Big Boy to open Aug. 11

    The long-awaited Frisch’s Big Boy restaurant will open Aug. 11, and when it does it will be business as usual from day one: the eatery will open its doors to the early breakfast crowd at 6:30.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • SOAR meeting at MSU Aug. 6

    Morehead State University and St. Claire Regional Medical Center will present Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers as part of a "Health Impact Series" under the new Shaping Our Appalachian Region initiative.

    July 27, 2014

Featured Ads
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP basketball
SEC Zone