As components of heroin bill are implemented, lawmakers learn that there is no one size fits all when it comes to recovery

07/13/2015 05:15 PM

ERLANGER – As treatment and services are being implemented as a result of the passage of Senate Bill 192 to combat heroin abuse, the reality is there is no exact science to effectively help recovering addicts.

Members of the SB 192 Implementation Oversight Committee meet in northern Kentucky, the epicenter of the heroin problem in the state, to hear from community, medical and law enforcement personnel about their efforts to assist addicts in their recovery.

Michele Flowers McCarthy, corporate director of substance abuse services for, says that one of the biggest challenges is to help an addict find a normal life once they have recovered from their addiction.

“If we’re going to take that away from them, no matter how unhealthy or dysfunctional that may sound, it is their coping skill, it is their best friend, it is what’s gotten them through a lot of really hard times despite the pain it has brought to their life,” McCarthy said. “So if we remove it, we have to make sure we replace it with other healthy things.”

Committee chair Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill, was encouraged to hear about a number of things that are being implemented as a result of the passage of SB 192.

“We’ve seen Jefferson County move forward with the needle exchange at this point, we heard the first pharmacies will begin prescribing naloxone within the next couple of weeks here,” McDaniel said. “So what we’re really beginning to see is the law is beginning to come on line, communities are beginning to utilize the different components of the law, and I’m optimistic to really see us put 192 to its full effects over the next several months.”

Legislators are aware that not everything will be addressed in SB 192 and additional legislation may be needed to combat substance abuse in the commonwealth.

Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Hopkinsville, says that he feels that it’s his job to listen and learn from community leaders of what additional things may be needed down the road.

“This isn’t the first sort of exploding use of substance abuse that we’ve seen in Kentucky and as these issues come up, we have to change the game plan and change how we address what people in Kentucky are suffering with,” Westerfield said. “We’re going to continue to study this and learn about what’s working and what’s not working, and we’ll address it come 2016.”


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