Rep. Addia Wuchner studies better ways to treat opioid addiction

09/11/2017 12:39 PM

BURLINGTON – House Health and Family Services chair Rep. Addia Wuchner, R-Florence, says that the key to fighting the opioid addiction in the commonwealth is providing effective treatment based on continuing research.

Wuchner, who also co-chairs the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare and Family Services, has been busy evaluating treatment centers around the commonwealth and surrounding states to see what model would serve Kentucky best in battling the growing addiction crisis.

“I’ve busy visiting drug treatment centers all over the commonwealth, and in other states, looking at what they’re doing, are there best practices, what can we learn,” Wuchner said. “Some are good, some maybe not so good. We’re putting a lot of money into it, you know, families are paying money, Medicaid is paying money, insurance companies are paying money, but what are the best practices?”

On September 20, the Interim Joint Committee on Health and Welfare and Family Services and Medicaid Oversight will hold a full day meeting to explore the issue and look for “smart and effective” solutions.

“It will be a full day committee committed to just this issue, beginning with our youngest population, to understand prevention, to talking about ACES, Adverse Childhood Experiences, that affect the most youngest of our populations,” Wuchner said. “Knowing if we identify a mom at the time of delivery that has been in addiction, or has been using IV medications, and she is positive for Hep. C, the baby is most likely positive for Hep. C and we do know that we can treat that child at three years of age.”

Wuchner says that one characteristic of the current opioid crisis is that it crosses all socioeconomic lines and just about every Kentuckians has a family member or knows of someone who is suffering from addiction.

“It is a community issue, it’s not just affecting Boone County, not just northern Kentucky, but across the commonwealth, and it rally affects the future of this commonwealth,” Wuchner said. “Something that we have to begin treating, begin getting an understanding of it, and how we move people into recovery, and how we support them through that recovery process.”

One area of some controversy around the country is law enforcement personnel being equipped with Narcan when they encounter an overdose victim.

Butler County Ohio Sheriff Richard Jones refuses to let his deputies carry Narcan to administer to overdose victims, because he says they are not authorized to carry and administer any other type of medication.

Jones’ stance has been criticized by numerous law enforcement officials around the country.

Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore, whose sheriff’s department does carry and administer the drug, says the biggest reason was as much for the deputies safety as it was for the overdose victim.

“The deputies came to the sheriff and said we need this product, we’re getting to scenes before first responders and we’re seeing people die, but the other things that’s driving it in other departments is a small bit of Carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer basically, under your fingernail, would possibly infect an officer,” Moore said. “So, some of the officers wanted to carry Narcan to protect each other.”


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