McConnell tells colleagues that Kentucky is on precipice when it comes to heroin

05/14/2014 03:11 PM

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell suggested to his fellow senators Wednesday that states like Kentucky must rely more on federally-funded regional drug task forces and agencies to combat problems like the intensifying heroin problem in Kentucky.

McConnell, addressing the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, spoke of the alarming increase of heroin deaths in Kentucky and made a pitch to work with state and federal stakeholders to save lives.

McConnell said addicts have shifted away from prescription pain killers as state lawmakers have made them more difficult to obtain. Instead, he said it’s clear they’re choosing heroin, which is causing an increase in drug overdose deaths and Hepatitis C cases caused by sharing dirty needles.

“The problem of heroin abuse is spreading like a cancer across the Bluegrass State, where we are losing close to 100 fellow Kentuckians a month to drug-related deaths. This is more lives lost than to fatal car crashes,” McConnell said.

While painting a picture of a vibrant Northern Kentucky rich in culture McConnell said the area rests at a tipping point because of heroin.

“Thankfully, the ending to this story has yet to be written. That’s why I’m here today, to share with you the gravity of the heroin threat to my constituents, and to pledge to work with all stakeholders to save lives in Kentucky from this terrible growing threat,” he said.

Neither McConnell nor the other presenters suggested solutions. But McConnell did list three takeaways from a 90 minute long listening tour he held in Northern Kentucky earlier this spring .

“First, as noted, it is clear that the increase in heroin addiction is tied to our fight against the prescription drug abuse epidemic, which is largely driven by the abuse of prescription pain killers,” McConnell said. “Second, while Kentucky is making progress with greater education, more aggressive prosecutions, and enhanced regulatory authorities at the state level, we need a combination of both treatment and incarceration to be a part of the solution.”

“Lastly, the heroin trade is no respecter of borders, which is why multi-jurisdictional and multi-agency law-enforcement efforts, such as the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, or HIDTA, are so crucial. In this era of finite federal resources, we must use these inter-agency partnerships to the best extent to maximize our return from the federal dollars we spent to combat this epidemic.”


Subscribe to email updates.

Subscribe and get the latest political intelligence delivered to your inbox.