Our stories connect us and they carry the power to remind us that we're not alone. By sharing stories of people impacted by Opioid Use Disorder (OUD), we can help more of our community understand that OUD is a treatable medical condition, just like heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. People with OUD coach soccer, own businesses, pay taxes, and so much more. All across Kentucky, people with OUD are making a positive impact on our communities. They're changing the story, and we can too.
UNSHAME KY is rooted in collecting stories of people with OUD, people taking medication for opioid use disorder (MOUD), family members of those with OUD, and individuals providing services to people with OUD. Sharing your story can help reduce negative attitudes and stereotypes for people with a substance use disorder and even inspire those that are still struggling with the disease that there is hope.
The role of friendship in Billy’s recoveryBilly worried he'd feel lonely in recovery from substance use disorder. But today Billy's friends and family are a major part of his life in long-term recovery, "In recovery, I built a recovery family. We don't judge. It gave me a sense of belonging."
Wendy’s StoryWendy was prescribed pain medication after surviving a car accident her senior year in high school. She developed an opioid use disorder, and years later, she survived an overdose. Today, she's not just surviving – she's thriving as a person in recovery, and she's giving back to her community.
Jennifer’s StoryJennifer has found strength in sisterhood in her recovery from opioid use disorder, or OUD. Her story shows us the role our communities can play in our friends' and neighbors' roads to recovery.
Jason's StoryJason felt beat down and broken, but today, he knows firsthand that he is worthy of a life in recovery from substance use disorder. He recently got married and is looking forward to his honeymoon in Cancun. He started school this fall and has plans to become a therapist.
Sheila’s StorySheila was prescribed opioids for a dental procedure and developed an opioid use disorder. Today, she's proof that recovery is possible and probable, with the right supports – her family has been a big part of her recovery.
Lee’s StoryFive years ago Lee began his recovery journey, and today he is a Success Coach at Isaiah House Treatment Center in Harrodsburg.
Tommy’s StoryTommy was born and raised in Winchester, where he went on to raise a family of his own – three kids, a marriage, a job, and a house. His story is like so many of ours. But his opioid use disorder developed in his 20s, and after a bad divorce, things became more challenging. Then, Tommy sought treatment for his OUD.
Stephanie’s StoryAfter a tragic accident, Stephanie began her road to recovery. Now, for the past 5 years, she has dedicated herself to supporting others with substance use disorders in her career.
Elizabeth's StoryToday Elizabeth is a paramedic and a person in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder serving her community, reducing stigma within the medical field through her work.
Jason’s Story9 years ago Dr. Jason Roop began his life in long-term recovery. Today, he's leading research on the leadership traits held by those with substance use disorders – traits like empathy, persistence, and resilience – and educating on how people with those traits can make valuable contributions to the workplace.
JuaNita’s StoryJuaNita and her husband began their recovery journey together 26 years ago. Not long after, they joined the church where they still are today and became leaders in the recovery community in Winchester.
Liz's StoryFor Liz, who lives in Franklin County, it's all connected – she's a person in recovery from opioid use disorder, and she got there through connection, true friendships, and support. Today she gives back to her community in her work. In her career, she supports others on their path to recovery from OUD.
Brandi's StoryBrandi is a person in long-term recovery from Fayette County. Today she's grateful for the friendships she's gained with others in the recovery community, and for the friends who continue to reach out to her for support.
Sam's StorySam works as a lead peer support specialist at #TurningPointCommunityRecoveryCenter, where as a person in recovery from an opioid use disorder, he does one-on-one peer support with individuals on their path and oversees the other peer support specialists.
Matt's StoryMatt is 20 months into his recovery journey, but the road to get here wasn’t easy. After losing both of his jobs at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, he moved back to western Kentucky to live with his family – and ended up in the hospital while working to recover from his opioid use disorder (OUD).
Neal's StoryNeal’s relationship with his family struggled when he was in active addiction, especially with his sister and his kids. But six years into Neal’s recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD), things have taken an incredible turn for the better.
Lauren's StoryLauren grew up in a family affected by substance use disorder (SUD), and for a long time, she held stigmas about addiction, like many Kentuckians for whom SUD is a part of their personal stories.
Germaine's StoryGermaine is a single parent, an artist, a teacher, and a person in long-term recovery from a substance use disorder (SUD). But just over five years ago, his life was a whole lot different.
Marta's StoryMarta sought help from a co-worker who was in recovery, and today, she has been in long-term recovery for over 40 years. After a long career working as a social worker, professor, therapist, advocate, and now commissioner, she’s sharing her story publicly for the first time.
Fred's StoryFred is celebrating 16 years in long-term recovery today, and he credits the healthcare workers at the hospital where he began his journey for making a difference in the way he saw himself.
Tabitha's StoryTabitha began visiting her local safe syringe program (SSP) while she was still in active addiction, and the resources she received there kickstarted her recovery. 15 months later, as a person in recovery from opioid use disorder (OUD), she remembers the way it felt to take those first steps..
Nathan's StoryMayfield Police Chief Nathan Kent is committed to improving Graves CountyÃ¢ÂÂs approach to harm reduction, both for people living with active opioid use disorder and the law enforcement officers he leads.
Kelly's StoryGrowing up in Winchester, Kelly was a lifeguard and hoped to become a nurse someday. She always knew she wanted to help people, but for a long time, her opioid use disorder (OUD) came first. Today she's living her values, helping others on their recovery journeys through her work as a program manager and taking time for the good things in life.
Billy's StoryBilly felt like he was running out of chances, and he knew that something in his life needed to change. After seeking treatment for his opioid use disorder, he got to experience that change and now he's back in the game.
Rickey's StoryRickey (Dolla Green) is a small business owner using music to share his story of recovery. He went from Volunteers of America to being a full-time student to climbing the ladder at work. Today, he is doing the best he ever has.
Robin's StoryRobin was a person living with active substance use disorder, but when she became pregnant, she began her path to recovery with some support.
Kimberly's StoryKim is a mother, grandmother, and nonprofit founder in her 24th year of recovery. She started out waiting tables after her treatment program and went on to work for her local mayor's office, supporting women and young people.
Alex's StoryAlex is an assistant professor at the University of Kentucky and he's 13 years in long-term recovery. One of the things I've learned in recovery is how to say "I love you," how to be really vulnerable, and to kind of lean into the brokenness that we all have," says Alex.
Erin's StoryA job she loves, a healthy relationship, her children, her family, her independence and four years into her recovery, Erin is feeling better with the help of medication for opioid use disorder, or MOUD.
Brandon's StoryBrandon grew up like a lot of us did -- he played baseball, he was a Boy Scout, he had dreams of working in law enforcement. But when Brandon was prescribed pain medication for a gym injury, his life changed due to an opioid use disorder. He prayed and prayed and prayed to have another chance, and now, he's four years into recovery.
Jenni's StoryFeeling connected, being part of a community, knowing that we're not going through it alone -- that's what life's about. Jenni found a thriving fellowship in her Louisville community when she connected with other women in recovery from opioid use disorder.