Eastern Kentucky veteran working to help other veterans suffering from substance abuse

Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 3:29 PM EST
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HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) - Earl Young, a Prestonsburg man, served in U.S. Army from 1994 to 1997.

Now, he works for Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) in Central and Eastern Kentucky helping people battle substance abuse, but it wasn’t easy for Young to get here.

Young first went to ARC when he checked himself in for treatment in 2019. He had been fighting a 23-year battle as an IV crystal meth user and had a run-in with the law. Johnathan Gay, a fellow veteran, was his lawyer at the time.

“I wanted to be the dad I was supposed to be,” said Young. “Johnathan had given me a card for ARC, and after getting out of jail I called him up and he helped me get into treatment at Sanibel House in Catlettsburg.”

Today, Young is the chaplain and lead peer support specialist at one of ARC’s facilities. January 30, 2022 will mark Young’s three-year recovery anniversary.

On Veteran’s Day in 2020, Earl was contacted by Letcher County Judge Kevin Mullins. The judge said he was working with another veteran, Matt Bailey, who could benefit from substance abuse treatment.

“Matt and I connected really quickly,” said Young who drove out to meet Bailey right away after getting the call from Judge Mullins. “As a fellow combat veteran, there was a camaraderie. A lot of people just don’t understand what veterans have been through when they come back from being overseas.”

Bailey graduated from ARC’s treatment program in September 2021 and continues to do well today.

“If you get the chance to help a veteran who has fought for our country, I would implore you to take it,” said Young. “If you can help that person, it’s a win. It doesn’t matter who you are or who they are. They deserve a chance at treatment. Whether I’m on or off the clock, it’s very humbling any time I have an opportunity to help a veteran.”

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, more than one in 10 veterans have been diagnosed with a substance use disorder, and more than two in 10 veterans with PTSD also have a substance use disorder. Alcohol use disorders are the most prevalent form of SUD among military personnel. Research published in 2018 also found that approximately 70 percent of veterans with past-year SUD did not receive treatment.

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