- Associated Press - Saturday, January 2, 2016

HARRODSBURG, Ky. (AP) - A map stands on an easel in the hall of the Mercer County Courthouse, littered with colored pins that represent people who are or have battled drug addiction.

“We are hoping to make people more aware,” said David Warner, chair of the Mercer County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, or ASAP. “Whether people want to admit it or not, there is a drug problem.”

The pins on the map represent residents that drugs have touched. Pins can be placed where there are recovering addicts, active addicts, and those where a family has lost a loved one due to addiction. A lot of the pins show up in clusters, revealing a pattern.

If the pins revealed themselves as ripples in a pond, the map would be covered in color, showing the way drugs impact everyone.

Kim Anderson with Mercer County ASAP understands exactly how drugs can impact a family. She lost her son in May to a heroin overdose. She saw him the night he passed.

“When he got out of my van, the last words I said to him were, ‘Stay straight,’” Anderson said. Her son had been working to get and stay clean.

In October, when they were trying to come up with a way to show people just how widespread the drug issue is in Mercer County, it was her daughter who suggested a map.

“Out of the blue, she said, ‘What if you got a map and you put thumbtacks on it?’” Anderson said.

The map was introduced during the prayer service to kick off Red Ribbon Week, and then placed on the courthouse wall a few days later.

“Each person (that attended the prayer service) was allowed to get whatever color thumbtack applied and put it in whatever area there was an addict. You hate to use that word, addict, but that’s what it is,” she said. “We moved the map to the front of the church, so people would see how much our county is affected by overdoses and drugs.”

After that, they wanted to find a more permanent place to display the map. They moved it to its current location between the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and the Mercer County Judge-Executive’s Office, along with extra thumbtacks.

There have been more pins added, Anderson said.

“A lot of people are afraid to acknowledge it. You don’t want anyone in your family to be acknowledged as an addict,” she said. “But it’s there.”

Warner said, at last count, there were 51 people who had overdosed in Mercer County in 2015 and at least nine of those had passed.

In 2014, there were 1,087 overdose deaths in Kentucky, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. As of mid-October 2015, the Boyle County EMS had administered Naloxone 44 times, according to a report given by Kathy Miles at the Dec. 14 Danville City Commission meeting.

But there is still work to do, Miles shared. The Boyle County Detention Center is still crowded with substance use disorders that need treatment. There are also inadequate treatment and recovery resources, she said.

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Information from: The (Danville, Ky.) Advocate-Messenger, https://www.centralkynews.com/amnews

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