HINDMAN, Ky. – With the opioid epidemic spreading across the country, programs are coming up with unique ways to help recovering addicts. One program in Kentucky is using Appalachian music and culture to heal.
The National Safety Council says the odds of being killed by an opioid overdose are 1 in 96. Those are odds are greater now than dying in a car wreck.
Doug Naselroad of Hindman, Kentucky, believes the country associates his state with the opioid epidemic.
“We’ve all lost friends and loved ones to this epidemic and sadly it’s one of the things that define us as a community,” said Naselroad.
In 2017, there were more than 47,000 overdose deaths in the country, involving opioids. More than 1,100 of those deaths were reported in Kentucky.
“You know the real enemy is the kind of hopelessness that drives people into that,” said Naselroad.
Culture has a way of healing itself.
“It has to do with filling your hands with the wrong thing because the right thing hasn’t come along yet for you to do,” said Naselroad.
People from the Hickory Hill Drug Rehabilitation Recovery Center come to The Appalachian School of Luthiery every week. At the school, Naselroad teaches stringed instrument constriction to students and apprentices of all ages, including those in recovery.
“We offer these individuals a way to focus on something other than their drug problem,” said Naselroad.
Jeremy Henne is one of those individuals.
“The pain medicine, the opioids, that the doctors prescribed me for my back pain, it hindered me in life. It really put me in a predicament where I had no control over what I wanted because if I didn’t have that medicine, I couldn’t get up out of bed, or I couldn’t go to work,” said Henne. “Eventually, it got me in trouble, eventually I got caught by the law, by the grace of God. If it hadn’t been for that, I’d probably be dead today.”
Every man’s ability may be strengthened by culture.
“It really gave me a sense of direction, a sense of purpose,” said Henne. “Through that program it allowed me to come to Hindman through the School of Luthiery.”
“There’s a lot that’s precious and excellent about Appalachian culture and we need people to understand that’s what we’re working toward,” said Naselroad.
Naselroad believes music has a way of healing. And if they are to preserve their Appalachian culture, they must continue to create it.