Congressman Andy Barr announces formation of task force to combat heroin abuse

05/07/2015 04:07 PM

LEXINGTON — Combating the growing heroin epidemic in central and eastern Kentucky was the subject of a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Andy Barr on Thursday.

Law enforcement, state and federal officials contributed to the discussion including White House Office of National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli.

Kentucky has the third highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States. Fayette County is ranked second out of all 120 counties in the state for heroin detected in overdose deaths. Fayette County has also seen the largest increase in overdose fatalities with 86 deaths in 2013.

Botticelli says one of the keys to combating the growing problem is understanding the root cause of drug addiction.

“One of the things that we’ve seen is the evolution of opioid issue from prescription drugs and now heroin,” Botticelli said. “The vast majority of the people who are using heroin in the increases that we have seen are people who have started on prescription pain medication.”

Barr unveiled plans to start the Sixth Congressional District Drug Abuse Task Force in response to the growing drug epidemic in his district.

The task force will be made of representatives from local organizations and government entities to advise Barr of possible policy and legislative solutions as well as identifying needed resources to combat substance abuse.

“We want this to be a catalyst for more opportunities to break down those silos, facilitate collaboration, facilitate cooperation and address all of the five pillars of combating this problem,” Barr said.

After the discussion, Barr and Botticelli toured the Hope Center in Lexington. A recovery center for homeless and at-risk persons that provides life-sustaining and life-rebuilding services.


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