Kentucky, UK Launch Narcan Program to Reduce Overdose Deaths
Gov. Andy Beshear announced that through a federal grant the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the University of Kentucky are administering Narcan, a brand name for the medicine naloxone, in 16 counties at no cost to help reduce overdose deaths.
Through the HEALing Communities Study – a partnership between UK and the Department of Corrections (DOC) – Kentuckians under community supervision, including their family and friends, living in or reporting to Probation and Parole offices located in Boyd, Boyle, Clark, Fayette, Floyd, Franklin, Kenton and Madison counties can receive Narcan free of charge. As of today, more than 500 units have been distributed. Eight more counties will be added to the program this summer.
“I have witnessed firsthand how Narcan can save the life of someone who has overdosed, and my administration remains committed to providing this life-saving medicine,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today’s announcement is one more step we are taking to fight the drug epidemic that has taken far too many Kentuckians.”
Individuals interested in receiving Narcan must watch a nine-minute training video, answer a few brief questions and submit a mailing address. To receive a free dose of Narcan, click here. Participation is confidential, and personal information is not shared with other agencies.
In 2019, Kentucky was selected by the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as one of only four states to participate in the HEALing Communities Study to investigate how tools for preventing and treating opioid misuse and opioid use disorder are most effective at the local level. A major goal of the study is to expand access to Narcan to help prevent and stop opioid overdoses.
“We appreciate this partnership with HEAL to provide life-saving medication to our clients,” said DOC Division of Addiction Services Director Sarah G. Johnson. “The opioid epidemic has caused devastation across the commonwealth, and as a result too many people have lost their lives to this disease. This program is essential, along with making sure people have access to treatment for their opioid use disorder and are able to work toward recovery.”
“We are grateful to DOC for their partnership in reducing opioid overdose deaths. It’s well-documented that overdose education combined with naloxone saves lives,” said HEALing Communities Study Co-Investigator Carrie Oser, a professor of sociology in the UK College of Arts & Sciences. “In collaboration with DOC, we’ve been able to provide overdose education, get naloxone into more people’s hands and provide peer recovery support services for clients on medication treatment for their opioid use disorder.”
In addition to the program locations, the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) makes available Narcan at no cost to law enforcement agencies in all 120 counties. ODCP also assist Kentuckians with locating a Narcan dispenser.
The 2020 Overdose Fatality Report released by ODCP indicates that more than 1,964 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2020, a 49% increase compared with the year prior. For more information on the study’s research on the impact community intervention has on reducing overdose deaths in Kentucky, click here.
Fighting the Epidemic When Gov. Beshear served as attorney general, he filed more lawsuits than any other state attorney general and sought to hold drug companies accountable for the damage done to Kentucky communities and families.
He has continued his fight as Governor by working to provide resources to fight the epidemic.
In February 2021, the Beshear administration announced $4.6 million in grant funding to expand treatment and recovery services, including those for mothers and pregnant women with opioid addiction.
In March 2021, the Governor signed House Bill 7 into law to ensure that communities are recovery-ready by supporting local substance use prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.
And in June 2021, Gov. Beshear announced more than $570,000 in grant funding to the Jeffersontown Police Department and Access to Justice Commission to develop a variety of treatment options.
In August 2021, Gov. Beshear and Justice and Public Safety Cabinet Secretary Kerry Harvey announced a total of almost $1.2 million in grant funding to implement a project creating pathways to recovery and healing for suffering from addiction.
In September 2021, Gov. Beshear announced that through a collaborative effort between state government, health care and the business community, the commonwealth had launched a new initiative to help employers address addiction, boost hiring and retention and support employees in the workplace.
In October 2021, the Governor and Secretary Harvey announced $1,698,441 in federal grant funding to assist in the fight against the opioid epidemic through targeted drug trafficking enforcement. Also in October 2021, the Governor and Secretary Harvey announced $188,784 in grant funding to help ensure that children negatively impacted by parental addiction have access to legal services, community resources and therapeutic services.
By the end of 2022, more than $69 million in grant funding across the commonwealth will have been awarded to help recovery and fight addiction.
“The commonwealth is continuing to take many aggressive steps to end this crisis, by using a multidisciplinary approach with a team comprised of health care experts, law enforcement, advocates and public policy experts,” said ODCP Executive Director Van Ingram. “Kentucky cannot continue to lose our citizens to overdoses, which not only causes thousands of families heartbreak but brings devastation to our communities. There is no simple answer to how we combat this public health crisis, but we must treat addiction as a medical issue, not just a criminal issue.”
Treatment Resources The KY Help Call Center, created in 2017 through a partnership with Operation UNITE, remains available to those with a substance use disorder, or their friends or family members, as a quick resource for information on treatment options and open slots among treatment providers. Individuals may call 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who will connect them with treatment as quickly as possible.
The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health manages a vital website – findhelpnowky.org – for Kentucky health care providers, court officials, families and individuals seeking options for substance abuse treatment and recovery. It offers real-time information about available space in treatment programs and guides users to the right type of treatment for their needs. The site provides a search engine for drug treatment, helping users locate treatment providers based on location, facility type and category of treatment needed.
The Kentucky State Police Angel Initiative is a proactive program designed to help people battle addiction. Anyone suffering from a substance use disorder can visit one of KSP’s 16 posts located throughout the commonwealth to be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment. For more information about the Angel Initiative, visit the KSP website.