International Overdose Awareness Day was on Aug. 31. And one state in particular is taking strides to address the issue of drug abuse head-on through a grant from The Bureau of Justice Assistance. Kentucky will use the $1.2 million grant to address opioid, stimulant, and substance abuse by funding several civil legal service programs.
These programs help those affected by opioid use and include:
- Appalachian Research and Defense Fund of Kentucky
- Kentucky Legal Aid
- Legal Aid of the Bluegrass
- Legal Aid Society
“Every dollar we can award through grant funding that increases access to treatment services and recovery programs is worth it to save one more Kentuckian from substance abuse and keep those in recovery on a successful healing journey,” said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear.
Grant Watch has a similar grant listed available for U.S. nonprofits for treatment programs for individuals recovering from substance abuse issues.
History of Drug Abuse
It is necessary to acknowledge the history of drug abuse in order to understand the benefits of grants like these. Drug abuse has been an ongoing issue in the U.S., but it grew in importance in the 1990s. This was right around the time the opioid crisis began.
When pharmaceutical companies assured consumers that the drugs would not lead to addiction, the medical community quickly followed suit. What followed became a widespread misuse of these medications, attributing to an economic burden of $78.5 a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In 2019 alone, nearly 500,000 people in the nation died from opioid-related overdoses. Among the most common that are abused are synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil.
Addressing Drug Abuse In Kentucky
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky had one of the highest number of overdose deaths in 2020. There were 1,369 overdose deaths in the state in 2019 and 2,104 deaths in 2020, a 53.7 percent increase. In Kentucky alone, 31percent of adults reported knowing a friend or family member struggling with drug addiction.
Much of these problems were started by the opioid crisis. The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that Kentucky providers wrote 79.5 opioid prescriptions for every 100 persons in 2018, compared to the average U.S. rate of 51.4 prescriptions.
To combat drug addiction, the state created the Kentucky Opioid Response Effort (KORE) in 2017. The program aims to expand and sustain an equitable approach to the opioid crisis. It focuses specifically on prevention, treatment, and recovery.
These kinds of initiatives are essential in helping those struggling with addiction. It’s important to understand how many people struggle with these issues, as well as to fund programs that can help.