Three Northern Kentucky counties are taking a regional approach. Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties are jointly funding a Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy to fight opioid addiction, starting with heroin, said Kris Knochelmann, Kenton County judge-executive. The counties, with a combined population of almost 390,000, sit just south of Cincinnati, Ohio.
The three counties’ Fiscal Courts have approved $120,000 to launch the effort. Kenton and Boone each chipped in $40,000, while less populous Campbell County approved $20,000 plus an equal amount of in-kind services such as office space and IT sup-port. The money will fund two positions: a nurse with legislative and political advocacy experience and a person to coordinate legal, funding and human services issues, Knochelmann said.
Data in Focus
Deaths from opioid drug over-doses have risen steadily over the past 20 years, according to HHS, so much so that they currently out number deaths from car crashes in the United States. In Oregon, Baney said, there’s been a 450 percent increase in deaths from prescription drug overdoses in the past 10 years.
This epidemic is driven largely by overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers (18,893) and deaths related to heroin (10,574). There were 259 million opioid prescriptions written in 2012, which is more than enough to give a pill bottle to every American adult.
“The number of overdoses showing up both at the hospital and that our police and EMS people are having to deal with are on the rise. The most heart-wrenching are the number of infants that are being born addicted,” about 120 at the main local hospital last year,”
Focus on Prevention and Treatment over Incarceration
There is much to do, but the momentum is moving in the right direction. The "Good Samaritan" provision of Kentucky's new heroin law allows for immunity from criminal and civil complaints for heroin overdose as long as 911 is called. The state's General Assembly also approved a law to:
1) expand access to naloxone, which can immediately reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, and comes with instructions to call 911 after administration
2) toughen penalties for dealing and selling heroin,
3) add $34 million to the state's addiction treatment system,
4) allow needle exchanges in local jurisdictions, such as Jefferson County.
Focus: Boone County
“Now we are seeing (heroin) in nicer communities – in Carmel, in Zionsville, in nice homes in Lebanon and in Thorntown. It can happen and it is happening here, and if you don’t believe it is, you are wrong. You are just flat wrong.”
Ken Campbell, Boone County Sheriff