Health

A summit on addiction held last winter at the University of Louisville has produced a slew of recommendations for overcoming the heroin and opioid epidemic in Kentucky.

Statewide, the number of fatal drug overdoses has nearly doubled since 2009. And as WFPL News has reported, in Louisville alone, 362 people died last year from overdoses.

The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Western District of Kentucky released the recommendations Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn said efforts to prevent drug use by young people must be intensified and access to treatment must be improved.

“Only two things can defeat us in our battle against this epidemic: a lack of commitment and a failure to collaborate,” Kuhn said via news release. “A serious and sustained commitment to resolve this crisis will bring us the resources we need, and our collaboration will broaden our impact immeasurably. Together, we can build a healthier community and bring this destructive chapter to an end.”

Among the recommendations from the report:

  • Addiction treatment should be available for all persons seeking treatment.
  • Prevention programs built upon evidence-based principles should be offered in all schools.
  • Education outreach to the general public concerning opioid risks, addiction, and treatment should be expanded.
  • Law enforcement should improve and intensify efforts to eliminate the supply of heroin, fentanyl, opioid analogues and diverted pharmaceuticals.
  • All sectors working on and affected by the heroin and opioid problem should collaborate to share data and information even if not mandated to do so.
  • Kentucky should establish a comprehensive, centralized drug data collection, analysis and sharing system.
  • Recovery support programs and systems should be developed in schools and throughout the community.

The full report can be found here.

Lisa Gillespie is WFPL's Health and Innovation Reporter.