Over the course of being implemented around two years ago, several inmates of the Kentucky River Regional Jail have received help from the Recovery Cells, which was piloted as an outreach with Primary Care Center. One of the peer support specialists, Becky Lewis, said she hopes to continue to share her story and experiences in an attempt to help the inmates in the Recovery Cell.
The Recovery Cells are two cells, one for females and one for males, dedicated to inmates who are interested in seeking help with substance abuse. The outreach, said officials, offers the inmates a chance to experience and learn about treatment centers before ever going to one.
“I started using drugs when I was 11. I had some real serious childhood trauma that I just couldn't deal with and couldn't get past, and so I actively used for the next 28 years just trying to suppress emotions that I just couldn't deal with,” said Lewis.
Lewis said she remembers when she was an inmate at KRRJ and remembers KRRJ Administrator Lonnie Brewer starting at the jail and asking inmates what changes needed to be made. When she told him about the problem with addiction, she said Brewer made her a promise to help clean up the jail.
Shortly after Brewer started at the jail, Lewis said she was placed in Perry County Drug Court by Judge Alison Wells. This, she said, changed her life and helped her get to where she is today.
“Drug court changed my life. I had been in and out of prison. I had been on probation, violated probation, sent back to prison, made parole, violated parole. My life was a disaster and I left chaos everywhere I went, and everything I touched I destroyed,” said Lewis.
Lewis said when she got placed into drug court she was placed with a therapist and set up at NA meetings.
“They loved me until I could figure out how to love me,” said Lewis. In Dec. 2017, she completed drug court after 19 months.
After drug court, Lewis said she didn't really have a plan on what to do until she was faced with the need to help her daughter.
“When my daughter developed her own addiction and I didn't really know how to help her I decided I was going to go into peer support and I was going to help other people and other parents who were just like me be able to find ways to help their children and save them,” said Lewis.
Lewis said she was hired on at KRCC and worked in the Rebound Recovery Center for a year, before a grant placed her at the hospital working with overdose patients. While there, she said she heard about the Quick Response Team (QRT) being created at Primary Care so she reached out to them for resources to help patients and found out about a job opening at PCCEK as a peer support specialist.
Since working as a peer support specialist for Primary Care at the outreach for KRRJ, Lewis said she feels like she is able to connect to a lot of the inmates. She said she loves seeing them receive the help and support they need.
“I love it; just the job in and of itself is so rewarding. Just the process of watching people come in and change and grow and morph into somebody new,” said Lewis.
KRRJ Administrator Lonnie Brewer said he remembers when Lewis started and reminded him of the promise she never forgot.
“I met Becky probably within the first week of being here at the jail,” said Brewer. “She reminded me of the promise that I was going to clean this jail up. For me it reminded me of what purpose I'm here for,” he said.
Lewis, said Brewer, is a wonderful example for other inmates.
“People like Becky are an awesome example of how you can overcome,” said Brewer. “That's what we want. We want people to be able to overcome their addiction and be able to make a life for themselves and their families and our community. She's at a point now she's giving back to inmates who see that she came from the same place that they were and it provides hope for them, and it's just amazing and really impressive what she's been able to do.”