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Health department highlights recovery opportunities 

By Dillan Combs

Journal staff

Substance abuse not only causes suffering to the individual, but to their friends and family as well. The Jessamine County Health Department offers support for both groups.

These programs and more were highlighted at the first Overdose 2 Action event Friday, aimed at bringing the community together and letting people know about resources available to those in need. 

“At the health department, we offer resources such as harm reduction team and an anonymous syringe exchange,” said Sidney Bisschop, certified social worker on a coordinator for the Overdose 2 Action Event. “Since Covid started winding down, we’ve been able to get to the jail and start helping folks again.”

Anyone who walks into the health department seeking substance abuse treatment, Bisschop says, can be connected to a treatment facility that same day. What’s more, the health department has staff who themselves are helping others as part of their own recovery. Shawna O’Nan, peer support special, and another coordinator for the event, shared her story. “I was just so tired of my friends dying – so tired of chasing a feeling and thinking it’s worth your life,” O’Nan said. She explained that, when she was 10, she stole alcohol. From there, she graduated to opiates and then to cocaine. Eventually, she was using heroin and methamphetamine. 

“I was kicked out of drug court because I was unwilling to stay clean, and I went back to being in and out of jail,” O’Nan added. “And finally, I had enough. I’m truly happy for the first time in my life. I now get out of bed and come to a job that I love and I get to reach out and give people a little bit of help, and show them that they don’t have to live that way anymore.”

The Jessamine County Health Department serves Jessamine as well as surrounding counties. Those seeking treatment are given a one-on-one consultation to figure out the best treatment plan for their situation. Through the Overdose 2 Action event, the health department stresses that Jessamine will come together as a community and help those who need it most. 

The Overdose 2 Action event hosted a memorial wall where guests were invited to attach photos of loved-ones lost to substance abuse. A hand memorial was available for those who have recovered to leave their handprints. 

Additionally, the event offered HIV and Hepatitis C testing. Health department informational booths were on standby to answer questions. Vendors, inflatable, raffles and other festivities were present. 

“I’m grateful to be here today, I’m grateful Jessamine county was willing to come together today as a community to stand together against overdose,” said O’Nan,
“Not only for the death of the individual, but for the people it affects. Families and loved ones also suffer alongside that individual.”

For more information regarding programs offered by the Jessamine County Health Department, call (859) 885-4149, or visit their office on 210 East Walnut Street in Nicholasville.