State Rep. Angie Hatton attended UNITE Pike’s monthly meeting Wednesday where she shared an emotional testimony about drug addiction which involved her younger brother.
Hatton began by providing the attendees with some statistics regarding overdose deaths. In 2017, 1,565 overdose deaths were reported in Kentucky, with 11 being reported in Pike County and seven in Letcher County, where Hatton resides.
“To a lot of public officials, those might just be numbers, and it’s easy to think of them just as numbers when we’re making our policies,” said Hatton. “But those of us, especially in Eastern Kentucky where the rate is so high in overdose deaths and where we don’t have a single family that hasn’t been touched by opioid addiction, we know that they’re a lot more than numbers. One of those numbers was almost my baby brother.”
Hatton said she is the oldest of four children, with three younger brothers. One brother is a prosecutor, another a doctor and her youngest brother, Joe, is a former addict.
“Seven years ago, we thought there wasn’t a chance that (Joe) was going to be able to live,” said Hatton. “No one expected him to make it to 30.”
Joe was forced into a treatment facility by his family after he was prosecuted, along with his former girl friend, by Hatton’s family, she said. Hatton said Joe and his girl friend has stolen from the family numerous times, but the last straw for the family was the theft of Hatton’s mother’s wedding ring.
“I called (Joe’s girl friend’s) mother and said, ‘I’m so sorry, but we have to prosecute her.’ And, her mother said, ‘Please, please do. Please. It might save her life,’” said Hatton.
Both Joe and his girlfriend were both offered the opportunity to leave jail and enter a treatment facility, to which they both agreed, said Hatton.
She said they intended to only be in the recovery center for 30 days.
“My brother reluctantly went with her, intending to stay 30 days. Fifteen months later, 15 months of inpatient treatment later, my brother was back,” said Hatton. “He was the boy that we loved. He was the creative, and smart, and kind, person that we had all loved.”
Hatton said her parents believed that, in trying to keep her brother alive and out of trouble due to addiction, they spend more many than they had on two law school educations and on medical school education.
“That’s not right,” said Hatton. “Because we managed to be able to pay those costs, my brother is alive. What if we couldn’t have?”
Hatton said one of her most important endeavors is figuring out how to provide treatment at an affordable cost and to make treatment more readily available.
“As I’m trying to make laws and vote on laws that will hopefully make the situation better, it’s never more than just a breath away from my mind that the people I deal with are people like my baby brother,” she said.
Hatton said Joe has remained clean for the past seven years, is now married and is expecting his first child.
She encouraged attendees Wednesday to contact her with ideas on how she can help fight the drug epidemic.