FRANKFORT – Substance abuse is Kentucky’s most overpowering, prevalent problem.
It’s impacting every community, hurting families, our economy and putting law enforcement in danger.
Everyone who is reading this has had a friend, a family member or a neighbor who has fallen into addiction – or worse, has lost his or her life.
If our Kentucky communities really want to fight this battle and save our future, we must all work together to find real solutions that help the number of people impacted in Kentucky by this epidemic.
A core mission of the Office of the Attorney General is to address this epidemic by supporting recovery efforts and the hard-working people and organizations providing these services.
Addressing addiction requires high-quality, accessible treatment options.
These services, in every Kentucky community, are vital if we are to help our children and friends suffering from addiction have the opportunity to become productive members of their communities and get back to their families.
There is no one-size-fits-all treatment or recovery program. We must employ a variety of methods to meet the needs of the patient/client.
I recently had the honor of providing millions of dollars to 15 of these recovery centers, and have seen their methods firsthand.
These funds are not tax funds, and they are not merely lawsuit settlement funds. They are settlement funds from the OxyContin settlement.
The 37th Psalm reads: “Depart from evil and do good and you will abide in him, for the Lord loves justice.”
Using OxyContin settlement funds to support recovery is not just the right thing to do; it is justice.
And the centers that received these funds earned them.
While visiting these 15 centers, I talked with many dedicated advocates and heard life-altering accounts by those recovering from addiction.
Like Ramey-Estep in Ashland, which supports treatment for adolescents suffering from substance abuse and addiction, where Bryana Cerrito talked about her struggles with substance abuse.
Like Independence House in Corbin and Freedom House in Louisville where pregnant addicts are treated so they can give birth to healthy children and be good mothers.
At each of the 15 recovery centers, I heard real stories about their success and how these facilities played critical roles in recovery.
I want to thank all of the facilities I visited and commend the staff for helping our families fight addiction – Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky in Covington; Transitions in Covington; Mountain Comprehensive Care Center in Pikeville; Pathways in Morehead; WestCare Kentucky at the Hal Rogers Appalachian Recovery Center in Ashcamp; Independence House in Corbin; KVC Kentucky in Hazard; Kentucky River Community Care in Jackson; Hope in the Mountains in Prestonsburg; Ramey-Estep in Ashland; Recovery Kentucky in Henderson; Necco in Bowling Green; Chrysalis House in Lexington; and Maryhurst and Freedom House in Louisville.
The knowledge I gained visiting these centers will serve me well as co-chair of the substance abuse committee of the National Association of Attorneys General. The committee works with law enforcement, prosecutors and community leaders to combat our nation’s drug epidemic. It will help me protect Kentucky by addressing legal gaps in other states that give rise to pill pipelines and drug exportation.
During a presentation earlier this year at the National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit in Atlanta, I spoke about Kentucky’s successes fighting the scourge of drugs and the state’s ongoing battle.
Finding real solutions to our drug epidemic is necessary because Kentucky has seen in the past five years a dramatic increase in heroin and fentanyl deaths. From 2011 to 2014 there was a 1,302 percent increase in heroin overdose deaths and a 352 percent increase in fentanyl overdose deaths.
Our only hope of finding solutions is to join forces in collaborative efforts. This is not just a drug problem. It is a community, law enforcement, government, legal, family and health crisis.
My pledge as attorney general is to continue working with local, state and federal officials to protect our families from this epidemic.
Andy Beshear is Kentucky’s Attorney General.