After hearing details of heroin scourge, McConnell says solution should include treatment and jail

03/07/2014 05:17 PM

FLORENCE – One of U. S. Senator Mitch McConnell’s takeaways after listening to law enforcement officials, treatment counselors and former heroin addicts was that a little jail time for addicts might not be a bad thing.

After a few opening comments by McConnell, 10 experts and recovering addicts outlined the epidemic of heroin addiction in Northern Kentucky and potential solutions.

Mac MacArthur, executive director of Transitions, Inc. which runs several residential treatment centers in the area said one of the big issues is a lack of beds in the area compared to Louisville and Lexington.

Kenton County Commonwealth Attorney Rob Sanders said he was concerned about a growing sentiment that fewer addicts should be imprisoned. He said many are incarcerated after they committed a serious and sometimes violent crimes to feed their addiction.

And Patrick Kenyon, a Boone County resident who is a recovering heroin addict, credits Narcotics Anonymous with helping turn his life around. And he acknowledged that even a little jail time was helpful in his rehabilitation.

McConnell said he was struck by the fact that Kenyon admitted incarceration can have a hand in turning around drug addiction.

“We had an addict here who said incarceration gave him a chance to get off of the drug and go into a treatment regime that apparently worked for him,” McConnell said. “I don’t think that there’s any simple answer to this. We had one witness that said 20 percent of the population at any given time is subject to addiction.”


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