HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (Oct. 27, 2016) – Today Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear joined West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine to host a summit aimed at fighting back against the Tri-State region’s opioid crisis.
The “Taking Back Our Communities: Combating the Opiate Epidemic” meeting was held at the New Life Church in Huntington, and brought together citizens, law enforcement, counselors, educators and faith-based groups.
Reports show that overdoes and deaths have skyrocketed across the region as opioids become more powerful. Heroin is now often mixed with dangerous substances, like fentanyl, a drug 30 to 50 times as powerful as heroin, and carfentanil, which is used as an elephant tranquilizer.
Recently mixed heroin was related to more than 28 overdoes in Louisville in just one day and 27 overdoes in a 24-hour period in Huntington. Over the course of six days, Cincinnati reported 174 heroin-related overdoses.
The meeting focused on stopping the spread of opioids, and provided an avenue to help attendees collaborate and share data, to support Good Samaritan laws and to assist those affected by drug addiction.
The attorneys general provided information on the trends being observed in each state, and identified ways to partner to address the crisis.
“Today we mark the start of a new collaboration aimed at combating the heroin epidemic plaguing the Tri-State region,” Beshear said. “The opioid scourge is not partisan and it is not confined to any state border. I am proud to partner with Attorneys General DeWine and Morrisey to share our resources and ideas to better protect our families and communities from this devastating epidemic.”
“Huntington, in many ways, has been the epicenter of the state’s opioid crisis,” Morrisey said. “Conquering this epidemic requires input from various states, government agencies and yes, our faith partners. This conference will capture all three and do so in a powerful way.”
“The problem of drug addiction doesn’t stop at our state lines, which is why it’s critically important that neighboring states like Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia work together to combat this problem as a team,” DeWine said. “I’m pleased to be collaborating with Attorneys General Beshear and Morrisey as part of this effort, and I am hopeful that the ideas shared at today’s conference will have an impact across all three states.”
Beshear’s four-part mission as attorney general includes fighting Kentucky’s growing drug epidemic.
Earlier this month Beshear joined House lawmakers Rep. Russ Meyer, of Nicholasville, and Rep. Dennis Keene, of Wilder, and local law enforcement officials to announce pre-filed legislation to tackle the more powerful opioids in Kentucky. The bill seeks to amend the state’s drug laws to create penalties for dealers of fentanyl, carfentanil and other designer drugs and creates a new class definition for known fentanyl derivatives.
Beshear said drug abuse is the single greatest threat to job growth and to a better life for Kentucky, adding that drug treatment is an important part of the fight against addiction.
In the 2016 legislative session Beshear worked with lawmakers to use $8 million from a lawsuit his office won against a drugmaker to fund 15 high-quality substance abuse treatment centers and organizations throughout the state.
Beshear’s office also helped to secure $2 million from a settlement with another drugmaker to fund Rocket Docket programs. These programs expedite drug-related cases through the judicial system and get those who need it most to treatment quickly. The programs create efficiencies for the state, local county jails and prosecutors, generating more than $10 million in savings last year.