WASHINGTON COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — In the middle of Springfield, Kentucky on a once-vacant college campus, there's an abundance of hope at the Addiction Recovery Care's Crown Treatment Center.
Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) operates a network of 38 addiction treatment centers in 16 eastern and central Kentucky counties.
They've taken over the abandoned St. Catharine College, which was sitting vacant for four years.
Now the 52 acres is dedicated to helping those struggling with addiction transition from crisis to career. Zachary Lynn is one of those people.
"We get that stigma around us that you're an addict, you're always going to be an addict, there's no hope. Well, there is. I'm living proof of it," said Lynn.
Lynn says he was on a one-way path.
"I was in addiction for about seven years. I ran away from home when I was sixteen," Lynn explained. "If you had asked me two years ago, where I see myself ending up, I would answer that, either dead or in jail."
He is now managing the very first ARC store at Crown.
"It was a game-changer for me like I said the first time I came to treatment. So, I heard the crisis to career, and I was like okay, so I can get sober, I can find a career that fits me. Let me go back to school, like it gave me so much confidence, gave me hope," said Lynn.
It's that kind of impact that inspired the facility. It is a massive undertaking that houses more than 700 people at capacity, the largest in Kentucky.
"During COVID and across the nation, we saw a 50% increase in overdoses, so we must keep doing what we're doing," said Tim Robinson, ARC President, and CEO.
According to CDC data, Kentucky is one of the worst states for drug overdose deaths in the country. The trend statewide shows overdose deaths continuing to rise.
From 2019 to 2020 the increase was more than 50%, a troubling statistic that Governor Andy Beshear says will take programs like Crown to help change.
"For far too long we've worked with people and then when they left, we said, Good luck. And what we know now is getting a job early is important to stay in recovery. Having continuing support systems, having transportation help potentially when you get out, being able to navigate some of the legal system, you may still be dealing with. Everything they're doing here is making sure that people aren't just doing better on campus but are staying better when they leave," said Beshear.
Their crisis to career model is not only expected to bring hundreds back to their families but also workers to support Kentucky's economy. ARC employs around 800 people across the state. Half of the workers are in recovery. Nearly a third are clients.