Louisville unveils plan to fight substance abuse

03/16/2018 02:26 PM

LOUISVILLE- The city of Louisville has seen an increase in the number of overdoses in the community throughout the past couple of years.

“In 2016, our hardworking EMS team performed overdose runs in every Louisville zip code, and we have seen overdose deaths and overdose related ER visits in our city rise to high and unacceptable levels in recent years,” said Mayor Greg Fischer.

In response to the increasing numbers of overdose deaths, Mayor Fischer, along with the Department of Public Health and community officials, revealed their plan to combat substance abuse that is plaguing the city.

The two year action plan called, “Coming together for hope, healing and recovery,” uses evidence-based recommendations to be put into place. The action plan focuses on 10 main things.

1.Preventing and reducing youth substance use
2.Increasing trauma informed care
3.Reducing the stigma
4. Increase harm reduction
5. Expanding diversion from emergency rooms and jails
6. Improving connection to treatment
7. Measuring the quality of treatment programs
8. Establishing guidelines for sober living houses
9. Making expungement affordable
10. Improving job placement

City and health officials say approaching substance abuse through a public health standpoint can be one of the most effective ways to combat addiction. The problem will not be solved through health-only initiatives, however.

“The work is just getting started. It’s still going to take all of us moving it forward, many of the initiatives need funding, more volunteers and political movement,” said Dr. Sarah Moyer, Louisville Public Health Director and Chief Health Strategist.

The plan does propose utilizing Medicaid to reimburse housing programs that provide support to those in treatment. But funding for many of the programs and treatment centers have not yet been secured and officials were unable to pinpoint how much funding is needed and where they will be receiving the funding.

“We’ve got cost estimates for the top 10 goals, so anyone who has the extra funding and is interested in putting it towards that just let us know,” Moyer told Pure Politics on Friday.

Funding is not the only uncertainty in the plan. Other aspects rely on changes to state law. The plan also hopes to send those addicted to drugs to treatment facilities, instead of jails, while HB 396 aims at reforming the criminal justice system, in part by sending drug addicted offenders to treatment facilities. The bill has yet to be heard in Frankfort.

Another aspect of the plan is making expungement of criminal records affordable. Currently, it costs $500 to have certain crimes expunged from records, which is often too expensive for many to afford. Changing the cost of expungement is something that is done at the state level.

The entire report and action plan can be seen 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 michon.lindstrom@charter.com

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