A Sense of Purpose Challenges Addiction

A Kentucky region riddled with the opioid epidemic is fighting for sobriety and finding motivation in business ownership.


John Stonestreet

Jared Hayden

Eastern Kentucky has been an epicenter of the opioid epidemic that has ravaged middle America. As jobs declined and a sense of futility set in, drug use spiked. Coal mines were replaced with “pill mills.”  

Recently, however, the region has seen hopeful signs. In the town of Hazard, 43 businesses have opened, creating 171 new jobs, about a quarter of which are held by those recovering from opioid addiction. Several businesses have been started by those who fought for their own sobriety. Other communities are seeing similar growth. 

As one small business owner and former addict put it, “When somebody gets clean, they want to change the world, and have ideas of how to change the world. You do something just to prove you can do it.” 

This is a powerful reminder of the importance of purpose. Underneath the social epidemics we face is a catastrophic loss of meaning and purpose. The antidote is finding the true WHY of life. 


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