Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley sees opiate addiction as a public-health crisis

07/04/2016 03:00 PM

FRANKFORT — Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary John Tilley says the opiate addiction problem in the state will take a lot of time and action in a number of different areas to bring it under control.

Tilley is very familiar with the opiate addiction problem in Kentucky as he served as House Judiciary Committee chairman as a state representative and worked tirelessly on drug addiction and trafficking legislation.

Tilley admits that there’s not going to be one magic bullet to solve the problem, and it will likely take years of work to try to make some inroads to battling the problem.

“We didn’t get here overnight, and we’re not going to dig out of this problem overnight,” Tilley said. “I think that’s the real reality to what we’re facing.”

Tilley points out that the introduction of fentanyl, an opiate painkiller, being mixed with heroin is a leading factor in the increase of overdose deaths in the state.

Tilley also believes that public officials need to view the epidemic for what it is — a public health crisis.

“This is fitting a square peg in a round hole to look at this as a criminal justice issue,” Tilley said. “Of course, when people are trafficking these drugs, that is a criminal justice issue, but this addiction, and the overall problem has created a public health nightmare for us.”

Tilley points to the latest report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows that of the top 200 counties in the United States most susceptible to a rapid outbreak of HIV, 54 are in Kentucky.


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