addiction

Aaron Payne

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded a major grant to what it calls an innovative pilot program for a region hit hard by the addiction crisis. The goal is to help people struggling with addiction get on the road to treatment, recovery, and – ultimately – employment.

People with substance use disorders can have trouble getting to addiction treatment, long-term recovery programs, and job opportunities if they don’t have access to reliable transportation, especially in rural areas.


Big Question in Opioid Suits: How to Divide Possible Settlement

Jul 29, 2019
Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

The roughly 2,000 state and local governments suing the drug industry over the deadly opioid crisis have yet to see any verdicts or reach any big national settlements but are already tussling with each other over how to divide any money they collect.

The reason: Some of them want to avoid what happened 20 years ago, when states agreed to a giant settlement with the tobacco industry and used most of the cash on projects that had little to do with smoking's toll.

"If we don't use dollars recovered from these opioid lawsuits to end the opioid epidemic, shame on us," Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said.

Kentucky Reports Drop In Drug Overdose Deaths In 2018

Jul 18, 2019
Mary Meehan

Kentucky officials are reporting the first statewide drop in drug overdose deaths since 2013.

A report issued Thursday says 1,333 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, down from a record 1,566 deaths the prior year. The decline follows years of steady increases in the death toll, driven mostly by surges in opioid abuse, heroin and fentanyl.

The report says the largest drop in fatal overdoses occurred in Jefferson County — Kentucky’s most populous county.

51fifty at the English language Wikipedia

Two newly released sets of government data show that the death toll from the nation’s opioid crisis may finally be dropping and also reveal the scale of the pain pill sales that help set the crisis in motion. The data for the Ohio Valley show how hard the region was hit and how hard people in these communities have been fighting to save lives.

Preliminary health data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that fatalities from opioid overdose fell last year for the first time after decades of grim increase. Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia – which have consistently suffered some of the highest fatality rates in the country – saw some of the most significant improvement.


Public Domain

A new Kentucky program is asking businesses to overlook the stigma of addiction when hiring or retaining employees. 

Faced with a low workforce participation rate and a high rate of drug abuse, the state recently launched the Opioid Response Program for Businesses.  The initiative will work with employers to provide free audits of human resources policies and identify how companies can better assist employees through recovery. 

Beth Davisson heads the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center and says the goal of the new program is to change the culture to treat addiction like any other illness.


Government officials are bickering over hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements paid by Big Pharma, stemming from the nation's deadly opioid epidemic.

The pharmaceutical industry paid out more than half a billion dollars over the last year alone. All sides expect the scale of settlements to grow fast as more cases go to trial.

A Growing Recovery: Food Service And Farming Jobs Provide A Path Out Of Addiction

May 20, 2019
Brittany Patterson

It’s lunch hour, and Cafe Appalachia is bustling.

Located in South Charleston, West Virginia, the former church turned restaurant has a funky, yet calming vibe. Twinkle lights and mismatched dining room sets dot the space. For $8 to $10 a plate, diners can enjoy a locally-sourced meal. The menu today is apple sage pork tips, spiralized zucchini (or “zoodles”), roasted broccoli, and a salad of spinach grown just a few miles away.

Autumn McCraw helped prepare today’s meal. The 35-year-old Charleston resident sports a maroon apron and greets every customer with a smile. Her days here typically start around 8 a.m.


Lifeskills, Inc.

Two behavioral healthcare organizations that serve a combined 18 southern and western counties in Kentucky are merging.

Lifeskills, Inc. and the Pennyroyal Center announced the move Tuesday.

The new combined organization will continue to provide addiction treatment, mental health, and developmental disability services at all 26 service locations it currently operates.

Lifeskills President and CEO Joe Dan Beavers said the merger builds on years of informal partnerships between the two groups.

Aaron Payne

The Appalachian Regional Commission has awarded more than two million dollars to expand addiction treatment and recovery resources for women in rural regions of the Ohio Valley hit hard by the opioid crisis.

Ohio University received $1,100,000 for the Appalachian Recovery Project in Athens County, Ohio. WestCare Kentucky, Inc., received $1,136,000 for the Judi Patton Center for Families project in Pikeville, Kentucky.

The funding comes from the ARC’s POWER Initiative, which was intended to boost economic development in regions affected by the decline of the coal industry.


Mary Meehan

The Ohio Valley has received nearly $60 million in additional federal funds to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Kentucky received $16,431,436, Ohio $29,122,692 and West Virginia $14,630,361. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced the funds as a supplement to the first-year State Opioid Response, or SOR, grant awards.

drugfree.org

A two-day workshop in Henderson, Kentucky on March 22 and 23 will offer education and training on how to reduce the impact of addiction on children.

The workshop is being hosted by marriage and family therapist Tamara James, who said the workshop is appropriate for family members, educators, foster parents and anyone who works with elementary, middle and high school youth.

"Day one of the workshop is going to be a discussion and education on how addiction impacts the family and the resulting childhood effects and trauma that can get passed down from one generation to the next if healing or intervention does not occur,” said James.

Political Feud Complicating Kentucky's Fight Against Opioids

Mar 6, 2019
J. Tyler Franklin

For every 100,000 people in Kentucky, 23 are killed by opioid overdoses — nearly double the national rate. But a political feud is complicating the state's effort to hold drug companies accountable for their part in the epidemic.

Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin are fighting over Beshear's attempt to hire private attorneys to battle the drug companies. Beshear is running for governor, and Bevin is the man he could face in the general election.

Flickr/Creative Commons/Mohamed ElGohary

The nation's opioid crisis may be getting the headlines, but a southern Kentucky drug enforcement officer says a larger issue in the region is methamphetamine.

Tommy Loving, director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force, says a more potent version of meth being smuggled into Kentucky from Mexico is putting local meth labs out of business.


Mary Meehan

A number of towns and counties in our region have adopted needle exchange programs in recent years as a way to combat rising levels of H.I.V and hepatitis C.

Barren County, Kentucky, began its needle exchange program in March, and has so far received more than 1,300 dirty needles from intravenous drug users.

Stephanie Dickerson has seen the Barren County needle exchange progress from being an idea met with skepticism to a reality. She works in health education at the Barren River District Health Department, and is based in Barren County. She helped the department’s director and epidemiologist lobby Barren County and Glasgow city governments to approve a needle exchange.


Ryland Barton

Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit against another painkiller manufacturer, saying that the company fueled Kentucky’s drug epidemic through aggressive marketing and fraud.

The suit claims that Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics gave kickbacks to doctors who prescribed its products and used fraudulent tactics to get more people prescribed, including falsifying medical histories.

Beshear said the company’s fentanyl-based mouth spray Subsys was only approved for cancer patients but the company aggressively marketed the pain medication to get more patients prescribed.

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