opioid epidemic

Mary Meehan

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

According to the Madison County jail task force, roughly 80 percent of the people incarcerated there are jailed on charges that somehow relate to addiction. County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor wants to try a different approach.


Survey Finds Teen Use Of Opioids Declining

Dec 17, 2017
Mary Meehan

A survey produced by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found a rare bit of good news about the opioid crisis: fewer teenagers reported using opioids outside of medical purposes.

The Monitoring the Future Survey 2017 results show a continued trend in decreased misuse of opioids by teens that dates to the early 2000s.

DEA Beefs Up Ohio Valley Opioid Enforcement

Nov 29, 2017
CSpan

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Wednesday enhanced federal enforcement targeting opioids in the Ohio Valley region, including a new Drug Enforcement Administration field division in Louisville.  

At a press conference in Washington, D.C., Sessions said the Louisville field division will be the first new DEA division established in 20 years. He said it will have about 90 special agents and 130 task force officers focusing on drug trafficking in the Appalachian region

Ryland Barton

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear has filed a lawsuit against opioid maker Endo Pharmaceuticals for pushing a highly addictive drug on doctors in Kentucky and contributing to the opioid crisis. In 2016, more than 190 Kentuckians overdosed on Opana ER — the extended release version of the pain medication manufactured by Endo.

“Endo put its own profits ahead of public health and patient safety,” Beshear said in a press conference on Monday. “And rather than help limit the opioid epidemic by reporting potential diversion through illicit prescribing, as it is obligated to do on under federal and state law, Endo looked the other way.”

White House video

As bad as the opioid epidemic is across the nation, it is even worse here in the Ohio Valley.

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia collectively have a rate of opioid-related deaths that is more than twice the national average.

Last year 5,306 people died from opioid overdoses in the three states -- 15 deaths a day. That means that 13 percent of all opioid deaths in the nation occurred in a region with just over 5 percent of the country’s population.


Courtesy White House, Office of the First Lady

Many lawmakers from the Ohio Valley region are expected at the White House Thursday as President Donald Trump delivers an address on the opioid crisis.

It is still not clear when the president will unveil a long-awaited emergency declaration on the epidemic. The president called opioid addiction “an emergency” in early August, and a White House spokesperson indicated at the time that "expedited legal review" of an emergency declaration was underway. However, two months have passed without action on the matter.

In an interview Wednesday evening Trump indicated the emergency declaration will come "next week." The president is scheduled to speak on the opioid crisis Thursday afternoon at the White House.


J. Tyler Franklin

Attorney General Andy Beshear walked out of a committee hearing Thursday after Republican lawmakers interrogated him about a settlement the previous attorney general made with OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma.

Beshear called the questioning “grossly political” and accused Republican lawmakers of continuing fights left over from political campaigns.

Wikipedia

When health care and law enforcement officials met recently at a health policy forum in Lexington, Kentucky, to share ideas about the opioid crisis, Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear listed some groups that have benefited from money won in a 2015 settlement with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.

“We had Freedom House in Louisville and Independence House in Corbin. We had the Chrysalis House in here in Lexington. Hope in the Mountains, that was going to have to shut down, in Prestonsburg,” he said.

The president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce says opioid abuse is taking a toll on the state’s economic growth and development. 

David Adkisson says many people looking for work can’t pass a drug test, and many of those who do have jobs are leaving the workforce because of untreated or under-treated addictions.  That has contributed to a low workforce participation rate, according to Adkisson.

"If we were simply at the national average, there would be 165,000 more workers in the Kentucky economy than there are today," stated Adkisson.  "Opioid addiction is one of the contributing factors to that, but it's a significant factor."

J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is joining dozens of other attorneys general to urge health insurers to review their policies for pain management treatment, in an effort to spark higher use of alternatives to opioid prescriptions.

Beshear and West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey Monday announced the bipartisan coalition’s efforts in the ongoing fight to end opioid addiction.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Over 700 doses of Narcan will be distributed to first responder agencies in four Northern Kentucky counties. Gov. Matt Bevin and officials from insurance company Aetna will make the official announcement Wednesday morning at the Boone County Sherriff’s Training Center.

Aetna is donating the overdose antidote to first responders in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton counties. Narcan is often sold under the generic name naloxone.

Opioid Emergency: What The Ohio Valley Needs To Combat Crisis

Aug 21, 2017
Rebecca Kiger

The opioid crisis gripping the Ohio Valley is now, according to President Donald Trump, a national emergency. But more than a week after the president made that announcement, state and local health officials in the region told the Ohio Valley ReSource that they have little information about what that emergency declaration actually means, or what additional tools it might provide.


Mary Meehan

Days after sending mixed signals on his response to the nation's opioid crisis, President Donald Trump said Thursday that he plans to declare a national emergency to better address the epidemic.

“We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of money on the opioid crisis," the president said, announcing that his administration was drafting the paperwork to make the emergency declaration official.


J. Tyler Franklin

Paramedics and police are already in the hotel room when Kyle Simpson walks in.

“What happened?” he asks.

A 37-year-old man in the room is barely conscious--just revived by the overdose reversal medication NARCAN.

Law enforcement officers survey the scene. They’ve found more heroin “rocks” on a table. One officer interviews a crying woman who was with the man when he stopped breathing.


flickr creative commons Chris Potter

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear announced on Wednesday that he is working with attorneys general from across the country to investigate whether drug manufacturers contributed to the opioid epidemic “by illegally marketing and selling opioids,” according to his office.

The action follows a suit filed in May by Ohio’s attorney general.

In Kentucky, there were more than 1,248 overdose deaths in the first half of 2016, a 25 percent increase from 2014.

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