EATON — A group of concerned citizens gathered Wednesday through Friday at Preble County Courthouse to protest drug use in the area.
Organized by Amanda Tackett, a recovered addict who is tired of both the stigma attached to users and the drug issue in the county, the group held their signs high as they asked cars driving by to honk their support.
The protest was targeting all drug use in the county — some of the signs said heroin, while some said meth. Tackett’s purpose was to “raise awareness in the community about what’s going on.”
She wants to inspire the community to “come together and do something.” She acknowledged that law enforcement is doing all they can, but she sees an area where the community can help. She warned, “If we don’t come together as a community, then nothing is going to work.”
This is a Preble County issue. Tackett says that she lives in West Alexandria and sees the issue there, just as she sees it in Eaton. There are groups that come together to pick up needles in local parks — when it gets warm, they find a lot of needles.
She added, the library is “a huge trouble spot.” They will do a future protest there.
Tackett means business. “We’re not doing this anymore, we’re taking our community back,” she said. “We’re not going to let drugs override it. We’re tired of losing people.”
This year alone she has lost many loved ones to drug use, she said.
The protest itself was put together last-minute. She just got tired of the problem and posted online she was going to the courthouse. By Friday, she had 20-plus people showing up to participate. There were people of all ages present.
“The level of support in our community is awesome. I honestly did not think it would be as positive as it was,” she said.
While actual drug use was the main target of the protest, Tackett says she sees another issue: the stigma drug users often face. She stressed, people do not wake up and hope to ruin their lives — drugs are the issue, not users.
“There’s a lot of stigma that comes with addicts,” she said. “I am living proof of a using addict that can recover and live a normal, happy life and be a productive member of society.”
Since she started with the cause, she has been able to get 12 people into rehab, something she is immensely proud of.
Tackett wants to inspire other users to quit.
“I want people to know that I’ve been where they’re at,” she said. “There’s hope after addiction. So many people get so down and depressed, you know, ‘what am I going to do with my life now that I’ve done this and this.’ Well, I’ve been to prison, I’ve been to rehabs, and I’ve also been clean almost four years and I’ve gotten my kids back and I’m living my life. There is hope.”
She acknowledges, one of the main issues with drug use in the county is a lack of resources. This is where she wants the community to step up. “I’m urging people to write your officials and write your lawmakers to hopefully get something else here in the county,” she said.
To get involved with any future protests, stay tuned to the Facebook page Preble County Vs. Heroin. Tackett also keeps her personal Facebook page public and will post there.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH