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Knowledge is power when it comes to battling drug addiction

By KATHY MILES

Boyle County ASAP

It has often been said that knowledge is power. Without accurate, timely and user-friendly information, individuals, families and communities are often stymied in solving problems. This is certainly true when it comes to addressing the current drug crisis in our community.

Since the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy (ASAP) formed the Heroin Task Force in 2014, local community members have been sharing their need to understand how to seek treatment, how to evaluate what kind of treatment is needed, where local recovery groups meet, and what the research says about effective prevention.  

A central point of entry for all of those needs would be ideal. We don’t have that yet, either locally or statewide. But several groups in the community have been working on collating information and making it available to central Kentuckians.

Our ASAP organization has an extensive and ever-changing resource directory. Hope Network has a complete listing of all Celebrate Recovery group meetings in our area, and they are to be congratulated for expanding that list in a significant way in the past few months. Recovery Roadhouse, the site of many AA, AlAanon, NA, and Nar-Anon meetings on South Second Street, also has a centralized list of their meeting information. Ephraim McDowell’s Emergency Room staff work hard to know the resources and refer people appropriately.  

Boyle County has an opportunity on March 14 to understand all of these resources better.

Families Into Getting Help Togehter (FIGHT), a group of persons in recovery and their family members, formed in late summer of 2016 after several area drug overdose deaths occurred in a few days. Most of their members have experienced the need for more resource information on a first hand basis.

A substance abuse resource fair is their planned response and their gift to our community.  The goal of the event is to give people guidance and information in how to seek help for the many needs related to having addiction in the family.  

More than 35 organizations will be in attendance from 2 to 6 p.m. on March 14 at the Danville Church of God, 516 S. Fourth St. Representatives of insurance companies, outpatient and inpatient treatment programs, emergency assistance agencies, recovery organizations and faith-based groups will be present to listen to questions and share information. There will be activities and information appropriate for all ages, and there is no registration fee. An interpreter for the deaf will be available throughout the afternoon’s activities.  

At 4:30 p.m. on that day, an overdose response training, sponsored by Boyle County ASAP and funded by a Kentucky ASAP opiate grant, will be led by Voices of Hope, an organization from Lexington.   Participants will learn who is at risk for a drug overdose, what to do in case of an overdose and how to administer naloxone, the medication that blocks the life-threatening effects of opiates until further medical treatment can be obtained. Voices of Hope will have a medical professional available to write prescriptions for naloxone for those with insurance coverage, and will have a limited number of free naloxone kits available for those with no payer source. All persons who have a loved one currently using heroin or other opiates, a loved one who is in recovery from opiate addiction, or a family member who has a prescription for opiates should attend this training.  

According to the National Center for Health Statistics (2015), Kentucky is third in the nation in drug overdose deaths, only falling below West Virginia and New Hampshire. This is yet another Kentucky statistic that we must change. Surely, an opportunity like the resource fair on March 14 is a clear example of the power that knowledge can bring.

Knowing how to save lives from overdose deaths is powerful. More than 45 local citizens knew that when they lined up in the Boyle County Health Department parking lot three weeks ago to receive information on administering naloxone and free naloxone kits.

On May 2, ASAP and Hope Network will cosponsor a conference for area pastors and faith leaders. It will include Overdose Response training, information about addiction and resources for recovery.  Accurate information helps those who are providing comfort and support to hurting families.

The Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation is one of our country’s most respected and longstanding treatment organizations for substance use disorders. They have recently listed 15 researched top approaches for communities to follow in order to overcome the drug epidemic. One of the approaches is to “put tools into the hands” of every sector of the community.

It’s obvious we haven’t reached everyone, but many Boyle County groups are working together to do just this.  Knowledge is particularly powerful when shared by a cross section of the community, and used for the common good.  

For more specific information about the Substance Abuse Resource Fair, contact Toni Ward at fight4ky@gmail.com. Bluegrass.org has a 24/7 crisis line for mental health and substance use emergencies and referrals for a 17-county area.  The number is (800) 926-8000.

Kathy L. Miles is the coordinator for the Boyle County Agency for Substance Abuse Policy.