LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – From helping drug-addicted moms to treatment programs at jails and prisons, Kentucky is spending millions to fight a major drug epidemic.

Legislators spent Monday at the state capitol in Frankfort talking about Senate Bill 192, trying to figure out how to appropriate $10 million to fight heroin addiction.

Representative Joni Jenkins covers southwest Jefferson County -- an area that's seen an increase in heroin use and overdose deaths in the past three years.

“Probably once a week I get a call from a family member or parent that says ‘how can I get help for my son, my daughter, my grandchild,'” said Jenkins who lost a nephew to heroin.

"People are looking for resources and people are looking for help," she said.

Justice Secretary J. Michael Brown presented his plan Monday to the legislative Interim Joint Committee on Judiciary.

Funding recommendations include up to:

  • $1 million to the Department of Corrections (DOC) for substance abuse treatment programs for county inmates in local jails.
  • $500,000 to expand substance abuse treatment programs for state inmates in local jails.
  • $1.5 million to DOC for an injectable, Food and Drug Administration-approved extended-release treatment program to prevent an opiate relapse as offenders are released from custody.
  • $2.6 million for grants to community mental health centers to fund additional substance abuse treatment resources on a local level.
  • $1 million to address neonatal abstinence syndrome by assisting with transitional care and wrap-around services.
  • $1.2 million to the Department for Public Advocacy (DPA) to fully fund DPA's social worker program, for the purpose of developing individualized alternative sentencing plans.
  • $1.2 million to the Prosecutors Advisory Council to enhance the use of “rocket docket” prosecutions in controlled substance cases.
  • $1 million to the Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy or KY-ASAP to supplement traditional programming.

Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, says three years ago in Kentucky, heroin only accounted for about five percent of overdose deaths. Now it's nearly 30 percent.

"This is a disease that we need to be addressing through public health and primary care as well as the interventions we make in the criminal justice system," Ingram said.

"We already had a large opiate addicted population and then here comes along a product that's cheaper, easier to obtain, doesn't require doctors prescriptions – you can get it from a guy on the corner," he added.

Besides treatment funding, SB 192 also helps stop people from dealing and abusing heroin -- traffickers face stiffer penalties especially when drugs are taken across state lines -- and there's a new provision for "Good Samaritans".

If someone is using drugs with another person and they report an overdose and stay with them, they would not be charged but instead offered treatment.

The bill also authorizes more people to carry the drug Naloxone which reverses the effects of an overdose.

"So now, almost anyone in the state of Kentucky -- if they're an addict or a loved one or a friend is an addict -- they can get that prescription and carry that with them," said Jenkins.

Ingram says treatment programs now have to apply to get some of the $10 million in funding and he says that information should be going out after July first.

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