Fed Up! rally brings awareness to opioid and heroin epidemic in - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fed Up! rally brings awareness to opioid and heroin epidemic in Louisville

Posted: Updated:
Metro Council President David Yates Metro Council President David Yates
Congressman John Yarmuth Congressman John Yarmuth
Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Advocates and treatment providers, along with local, state and national leaders filled Jefferson Square Park on Friday for the annual Fed Up! Overdose Awareness Rally.

There were tables set up with everything from local resources for addicts to Narcan demonstrations. Different groups were giving out pamphlets, stickers and bracelets.

Lawmakers were also on hand to send a clear message that everyone is affected, and they are fed up with the epidemic stealing lives nearly every day. According to the Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, 285 people died of a drug overdose last year in Jefferson County.

“Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in Louisville and all of Kentucky, even more than automobile accidents,” said Wayne Crabtree with the health department. “And while we are very rightly concerned about homicides, our death rate from opioid overdoses in Louisville is three times the homicide death rate so far this year.”

Metro Council President David Yates told the crowd that this is personal for him. He said he grew up in a household with addiction. Yates said he saw the horrors of it and also the success of what treatment programs can do.

“As long as we’re in office, I believe I can say in one voice, when someone wants help, we will do everything we can to respond and make that available,” Yates said.

To make sure treatment and long-term resources are available, Congressman John Yarmuth said not only do lawmakers need to push for legislation, they need more funding too. Yarmuth said the most important thing they can do is continue funding Medicaid.

“Medicaid is the single biggest payer of substance abuse treatment recovery in the United States,” Yarmuth said.

Adding to the problem, every speaker said there are too many opioids being prescribed.

“Over the last four-and-a-half years in Louisville, there have been 197 million doses of opioid prescribed," Yarmuth said. "That’s 250, roughly, for every man, woman and child in this community.”

Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear said he intends to hold big drug manufacturers accountable, too.

“It is their responsibility to put in the millions of dollars of treatment to help us claw our way out,” Beshear said. “And folks, I’m going to pursue and sue every single one of them until they meet that responsibility.”

Speakers also applauded the syringe exchange program. In two years, the program has helped 11,500 participants, many of which are choosing to go to treatment.

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