Mother who lost son to overdose speaks out about the issue


LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — Groups all over are seeing the same thing, more drug overdoses.

Georgetown Police sent out an advisory Thursday about the issue. Sober-living groups are seeing the same thing. Boredom, stimulus checks, fear of the coronavirus – it’s all adding up.

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The Odyssey Group in Lexington has seen almost 10 overdoses in the last three months.

“It’s got to stop,” says director of the sober living, Billie Jo Barnes.

When Barnes talks about the increase in drug overdoses, she does it from experience. She buried her 23-year-old son earlier this month and dealt with her own relapse.

“That was the worst night of my life. Drugs isn’t the way to deal with my pain and my suffering and my heartache. It took his death to shake me, to wake me up,” says Barnes.

She says the coronavirus has made people lose focus on their recovery.

“I just want people to wake up and get help. And I want them to understand that just because this virus is out there, it doesn’t mean there’s not recovery,” says Barnes.

The stimulus checks the government responded with helped a lot of people but it also meant problems for those on the edge.

“It was enough money for him to buy enough drugs to take him out of this world,” says Barnes of her son.

She knows it would have been trouble but she wishes stricter rules were in place.

“I don’t want other people’s children to end up in a coffin. They need to look into background checks on these stimulus checks and make sure they’re going to rent and groceries,” says Barnes.

She says she sees more stress in her clients struggling with recovery.

“People are afraid and being afraid will cause relapse alone because if you’re high you don’t fear anything,” says Barnes.

On top of that, they’re bored from unemployment.

“Boredom is the biggest trigger to a recovering addict, trust me I know,” says Barnes.

She wants to use her son’s story to help save others’ lives.

“All I want to do is help people. That’s the reason I’m here. That’s the reason I’m not high right now,” says Barnes.

In addition, Barnes says the group is struggling financially due to the pandemic.

If you feel inclined to help, you can call the group at (859) 509-3745 or visit the office located at 519 Michigan St. Apt. C.



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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at