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Gov. Beshear Enhances Resources for Kentuckians Fighting Addiction

Bill Stephens

June 13th, 2022

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Recovery Ready Communities to offer transportation, support groups, employment services at no cost

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 13, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear announced that Kentucky is working to establish counties as “Recovery Ready Communities” in an effort to help individuals fighting an addiction receive critical resources at no cost, and work to reduce the ongoing public health crisis that is sweeping across the nation.

This is in response to Gov. Beshear signing House Bill 7 last year, which ensures communities are recovery-ready through the availability of high quality recovery programs offered within their area.  

“In 2021, we lost 2,250 Kentuckians to an overdose death, which is devastating and extremely heartbreaking,” Gov. Beshear said. “I hope all 120 counties in the commonwealth will join my administration in the fight to save lives by pledging to be ‘recovery ready’ and ensuring the necessary support is available to those who are struggling with addiction.”

HB 7 created the Advisory Council for Recovery Ready Communities within the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), who is partnering with Volunteers of America (VOA) to launch a Recovery Ready Community Certification Program for cities and counties to apply for upon offering transportation, support groups, recovering meetings and employment services at no cost to residents currently seeking treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction.

“The Advisory Council has been doing great work on getting these Recovery Ready Communities ready to go,” ODCP Executive Director Van Ingram said. “We are optimistic about our partnership with Volunteers of America and their proven capabilities to help address addiction in the state of Kentucky.”

Through this partnership, VOA will work directly with the counties and cities participating in the program, as well as various public and private organizations around the state to enhance recovery, help avoid overdose, end the stigma associated and work to reduce recidivism.

“We are committed to being an inclusive and collaborative leader as we create a framework that will both standardize and customize what it means to be recovery ready for every Kentucky community,” said VOA President & CEO Jennifer Hancock, LCSW. “Recovery Ready Communities truly has the potential to transform how Kentucky approaches the public health crisis of our generation, so it was with a sense of urgency, accountability and passion that we applied. Our team is ready to get started, inspired by the work and cannot wait to bring this initiative to life.”

Fighting the Epidemic

Through partnerships across state government, including the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the Beshear-Coleman administration is diligently working to provide wider and easier access to recovery, reduce addiction and prevent reincarceration to offenders. These programs will help continue the fight against the drug epidemic in the state of Kentucky while providing help for those who need it.

During the 2022 legislative session, Gov. Beshear worked with a bipartisan group of state leaders to act on recommendations made by Pew Charitable Trusts on how to best address the opioid crisis. This includes signing Senate Bill 90 into law to provide eligible individuals an alternative to receive treatment for a behavioral health disorder instead of incarceration, expand recovery-ready housing and expand access to treatment for pregnant and parenting people in rural areas.

Additionally, the Governor took legislative action to help those suffering from an addiction who are not in a position to seek help for themselves. Casey’s Law, signed in 2004, has helped more than 6,000 Kentuckians battling addiction by allowing families and loved ones to seek a court order for involuntary treatment for anyone who is fighting addiction and refuses treatment on their own. Gov. Beshear signed House Bill 362 in April to expand on the benefit of Casey’s Law by permitting the court to determine if an individual should be ordered to undergo treatment for a substance use disorder beyond a reasonable doubt. At this time, the court shall order treatment for a specific amount of time. If the individual fails to undergo treatment, they will be held in contempt of court.

Then in April, Gov. Beshear and ODCP announced $4.9 million in grants to expand treatment and recovery services to offer comprehensive treatment and recovery services to pregnant and parenting people. This funding will not only help parents recover from opioid addiction but will also address Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition caused by an infant going through drug withdrawal. 

“The new funding and bipartisan actions will not only allow the Commonwealth of Kentucky to continue the fight against the opioid epidemic, but it will increase the chances of us winning,” Gov. Beshear said. “We are not only committed to helping those struggling with addiction and recovery, but we are committed to helping their families, as well.”

By the end of this year, ODCP estimates that it will have awarded more than $69 million in grant funding to programs across the state that provide treatment services and recovery programs, as well as employment and job training in just the past three years alone. This grant funding will allow Kentuckians the opportunity to get safe and effective treatment easier than ever before.

“This new funding has expanded the ability of ODCP to address the heart of the issue,” Executive Director Ingram said. “This is not just a matter of getting drugs off the street. Addiction is a mental health issue, as well, and we are working to make sure that it is treated as such.”

In February, Gov. Beshear announced that, through a federal grant, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky are administering Narcan, a brand name for the medicine naloxone, in eight counties at no cost to help reduce overdose deaths. As of today, more than 500 units have been distributed. Eight more counties will be added to the program this summer.

This new funding is in addition to millions of dollars of grant funding announced by the Beshear-Coleman administration in 2021. This includes more than $570,000 to the Jeffersontown Police Department and Access to Justice Commission to develop a variety of treatment options; almost $1.2 million to implement a project creating pathways to recovery and healing for individuals suffering from addiction; $1,698,441 in federal grant funding to assist the fight against the opioid epidemic through targeted drug trafficking enforcement; and $188,784 to ensure that children negatively impacted by parental addiction have access to legal services, community resources and therapeutic services.

By the end of this year, the “HEALing Communities Study,” conducted by the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, should be completed. This study hopes to identify the most effective means of intervention to assist in reducing overdose deaths in the commonwealth and around the nation. Kentucky was one of four states chosen to participate in the study. For more information on the study’s research on the impact community intervention has on reducing overdose deaths in Kentucky, click here.

Treatment Resources

Call the KY Help Call Center at 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who can connect Kentuckians to treatment.

Visit findhelpnowky.org to find information about available space in treatment programs and providers based on location, facility type and category of treatment needed.

Visit the KSP website to find one of KSP’s 16 posts where those suffering from addiction can be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment.

For a video from Gov. Beshear on available treatment and resources, and the importance of knowing how to respond to an overdose, click here.

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