Forum held to help tackle Kentucky’s drug epidemic, take back our communities
PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (March 16, 2017) – Attorney General Andy Beshear today will host a community drug forum in Floyd County.
A top priority of Beshear’s office is to find workable solutions to the drug epidemic, which he views as the biggest issue facing Kentucky communities and Kentucky families.
“The single greatest threat to Kentucky is our drug epidemic,” Beshear said. “The crisis is killing our families and friends; it is the main source of crime in our communities; and it is preventing job and economic growth. This is the crisis of our times, and we must find new ways to stop drug dealers and help those addicted recover.”
Joining Beshear at the forum are Floyd County Judge-Executive Ben Hale, County Attorney Keith Bartley and Sheriff John Hunt. The event starts at 5 p.m. at the Jenny Wiley State Resort Park in Prestonsburg.
The forum will include discussion panels with more than a dozen local leaders, law enforcement, advocates, experts and survivors focused on helping others in the region recognize drugs, know the effects of drug abuse, and explain and discuss treatment strategies. To view the complete forum agenda and detailed panelist information, click here.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015 Kentucky had the third highest age-adjusted drug overdose death rates in the country, behind only West Virginia and New Hampshire.
In addition to the devastating impact of lives lost, the CDC says the total economic burden associated with prescription opioid abuse, including the cost of health care, lost productivity, substance abuse treatment and the criminal justice system in the United States is $78.5 billion a year.
Beshear’s office is working to combat the rapid rise of stronger, more powerful drugs like heroin, fentanyl and carfentanyl that are responsible for the opioid epidemic.
On the law enforcement side, Beshear and his team are working every day to identify and arrest dangerous fentanyl dealers, cutoff illicit prescription pill pipelines and shut down rogue suboxone clinics.
On the treatment side, the office worked to provide over $8 million to drug treatment facilities across the Commonwealth, including $900,000 to Prestonsburg’s Hope in the Mountains and $400,000 to Pikeville’s Mountain Comprehensive Care Center.
The funding has helped Hope in the Mountains to fill gaps in services and provide specialized programming for women struggling with addiction.
For Mountain Comprehensive Care Center, the funds have allowed the organization to complete four residential substance abuse facilities that have increased the number of treatment beds by 30. This expansion has already provided residential services to 60 individuals in Prestonsburg and is helping to reduce wait-time for those seeking treatment.
Representatives from both treatment centers will participate in today’s forum and provide expert advice on treatment options and how best to care for those suffering from drug dependence.
The Office of the Attorney General also provided $2 million to fund Rocket Docket programs, which help quickly move addicts into treatment. Last year Rocket Docket programs throughout the state saved Kentucky taxpayers $10 million.
Beshear is working with others beyond the Commonwealth’s geographical boarders to organize larger efforts to fight the epidemic. He joined West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in October to host a summit aimed at fighting back against the Tri-State region’s opioid crisis.
Beshear serves as co-chair of the Substance Abuse Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General. The committee brings together law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders at the national-level to help stop the spread of the substance abuse epidemic.
Beshear said fighting the drug epidemic will continue to be one of his top priorities and he is planning additional community drug forums throughout the Commonwealth.
“I want to bring everyone to the table and coordinate the best response to this epidemic,” Beshear said. “We must do more to help those suffering and take back our communities.”