Common Ground: Opioid Epidemic

03/05/2018 05:59 PM

It’s an epidemic that knows no socio-economic bounds – opiates affects mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, grandparents, touching everyone in this state.

Opioid addiction has skyrocketed in Kentucky over the past few years, taking thousands of lives. From 2012-2016, 5,800 people have died from opioid overdoses statewide. Each year, the number of overdose deaths continues to grow.

And as the death toll climbs, Democrats and Republicans are putting aside their political differences to try and find a solution to combat this epidemic.

During Governor Bevin’s State of the Commonwealth Address he vowed to fight the epidemic plaguing the commonwealth. Last week, Governor Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky, announced the “Angel Initiative” launched by Kentucky State Police allowing addicts to seek treatment through police departments without being arrested.

“Today, if this is an average day in Kentucky, we will have three or four people die of an overdose in Kentucky,” said Gov. Bevin. “Very few people set out to abuse drugs, it is a slippery slope. We have an obligation to take care of our fellow citizens.”

Attorney General Andy Beshear, D-Kentucky, is trying to fight the epidemic through legal action. Since taking office in 2016—Beshear has filed three lawsuits against major drug manufacturers. His latest lawsuit against Cardinal Health—alleges the company failed to report suspiciously large orders of painkillers in the state.

“We have lost so much, our families have lost so much, our community have lost so much, our children have lost so much, but a better future is possible. These companies have made billions and they need to be a part of that better future. They have a duty to fully fund treatment, prevention and enforcement to use some of those profits that they earn to help us climb out of this epidemic.” Beshear said.

The epidemic is not only touching Kentucky—it’s nationwide. The CDC Reports 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses in 2016, the highest of any year on record.

So what is being done? As the rate of addiction continues to soar—the amount of treatment facilities opening is also on the rise. Having an opioid addiction is becoming more accepted—meaning seeking treatment is becoming easier.

Websites like Don’t Let Them Die and toll free help lines are in place in Kentucky to allow people to seek help, and lawmakers are trying to reform the criminal justice system to allow those addicted to drugs to go to treatment facilities instead of jail.

The state has allocated $10.8 million in their 2018-2020 biennium budgets to fund opioid prevention, treatment and recovery initiatives. The House’s revenue plan seeks to tax opioids—in hopes of preventing distributors from sending large amounts of pills into the state.
Nationwide—President Trump has declared a state of emergency over the opioid crisis.

While lawmakers in Kentucky and across the country are working together to fight the epidemic, it could take some time before we see results.

Watch the Segment here:

Michon Lindstrom

Michon is a producer for Pure Politics. Michon comes to Kentucky from Springfield, Illinois where she served as the statehouse reporter for the NBC affiliate. During her time in the Land of Lincoln she covered the state’s two year budget impasse and the largest school funding overall in Illinois history. Pure Politics airs weeknights at 7 and 11:30 on Spectrum News. Follow Michon on Twitter at @MichonLindstrom or reach her by email at


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