Addiction awareness events take aim at Clark County's growing he - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Addiction awareness events take aim at Clark County's growing heroin problem

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Heroin use is growing in Clark County, turning people into criminals, taking lives and destroying families. But the community is finding every way it can to fight back. 

The organization 'Clark County CARES' is holding a series of addiction awareness events, with the first happening at St. Paul's Episcopal Church Monday night. 

The conversation centered around what drugs are doing to the area and, for some, it's personal. 

Carolyn King is a community advocate and a social worker who also lost her 22-year-old granddaughter to heroin less than a year ago. 

"I know that many other families are going through it as well," King said. "We can't just ignore and pretend it isn't happening because it is."

She sat on a panel with several local officials to talk about addiction. The Clark County Sheriff  says drugs play a role in about 80 percent of the county's crimes. 

The public health officer says overdose deaths have increased from 32 in 2013 to more than 70 last year in Clark County. And Judge Brad Jacobs says the county gets at least five new felony drug cases everyday. 

"People don't understand," Jacobs said. "We're a small community and it feels small, but in reality we have a horrible problem just beneath the surface."

The organization Clark County CARES is trying to raise awareness. They're holding events all week. 

"Getting the word out is the main thing," Jacobs said. "If we can get people to care and pay attention to the problem then that's the first step forward."

The group discussed the impact of drugs and possible solutions. Many agreed the problem is too big to tackle alone. 

"You've really got to get everybody on board with this crisis," Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said at Monday night's meeting.

King says she hope's their efforts will create a ripple effect to get more people taking about addiction and opening up about their own struggles -- something she said her granddaughter couldn't do. 

"She was ashamed and that's the problem," King said. "People are fighting this on their own and they don't want to share that and it's heartbreaking." 

The drug problem in Clark County has also led a rise in HIV and Hepatitis C cases. 

Local health officials say they expect the county's needle exchange program to be approved by the state in less than two months.

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