LEXINGTON, Ky. — In a health alert, according to the CDC, historically, more men have died from alcohol-related deaths than women.
However, a new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows the gap for alcohol-related deaths is narrowing between men and women.
For over three years, Sherri Farmer has volunteered at Voices of Hope in Lexington, which offers free recovery services to the community.
“I had worked all my life, and I needed something to do and this ended up being a perfect fit,” Farmer said.
Every week, Farmer calls participants in Voices of Hope alcohol/substance abuse recovery program, checking in to see how they’re doing in recovery or just how their day has been.
“Everybody likes to have somebody say, ‘Yeah I’ve been there,’” Farmer said.
Farmer, in fact, has been there. She worked as a nurse for 35 years and started drinking at age 21 until she was 38-years-old, when she got clean.
“I still had a job, but it had affected friendships, relationships. I got into recovery because I had to go to court-ordered treatment,” Farmer said.
Farmer has been sober for two decades, but women abusing alcohol and damaging their health is only getting worse.
The JAMA study shows from 2018 to 2020, alcohol-related deaths in women rose 14.7% a year, and for men it rose 12.5%.
David Brumett, program manager at Voices of Hope, believes the pandemic played a role in increased alcohol consumption.
“For many people in recovery, community and finding groups of people they can find a connection with is very valuable and to suddenly lose that is significant,” Brumett said.
The nonprofit offers free meetings, recovery coaching and telephone recovery services and more to anyone interested in getting sober. Many staff, including Brumett, have battled addiction as well.
“They don’t just have a clinical or a textbook understanding. They have a life understanding,” Brumett said.
Brumett says his own addiction led to homelessness, damaged relationships and incarceration. But after serving his sentence and recovery, treatment led him to a healthier life. He hopes others can learn from him.
“On the other hand, my life is now representative of knowing what it’s like to find recovery and begin to believe in yourself again and heal relationships,” Brumett said. “I love nothing more than just sitting down and connecting with someone and asking them to give me the honor and share their story.”
Sharing stories, making connections, and meeting people where they are in their recovery process is critical. It’s why Farmer continues to be an open ear in someone’s time of need.
“That’s what we all want, somebody to accept us for who we are and what we are,” Farmer said.
Voices of Hope believes everyone reaches recovery in their own way and seeks to reduce the stigma of addiction.
Anyone seeking recovery and wants more information on Voices of Hope can reach them at 859-303-7671.