Boyle community’s efforts are why we’re part of $87M opioid grant

Published 4:24 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019


The Advocate-Messenger

The $87 million grant announced last week to fight opioid overdoses gives Kentucky a big opportunity to create meaningful, positive changes in ways that can benefit the whole state, and then the whole nation. And Boyle County gets to be one of the first counties benefiting.

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The National Institutes of Health awarded the four-year grant to the University of Kentucky Thursday. UK is going to spend the money in 16 counties, including this one.

The grant is one of four totaling $350 million that will finance research into evidence-based methods of reducing opioid overdose deaths, helping develop strategies that can finally bring the current drug crisis under control.

UK chose counties that have at least 25 opioid deaths for every 100,000 in population — in that way, we are unlucky. But they also chose counties based on positive factors that show there are already local efforts underway to fix the problem. All the counties chosen have a needle exchange program and health care providers who offer medication assisted therapy — a combination of medicine that controls opioid users addiction needs and therapy that helps them overcome the addiction.

In other words, the grant isn’t trying to figure out how to solve the opioid crisis from scratch; it’s trying to support communities already doing the hard work themselves so they can find solutions faster.

That’s a brilliant strategy and it means the money will hopefully be spent very efficiently — on ideas and programs we already know or strongly suspect will work, but that we haven’t had the funding to fully implement before.

Drugs are devastating many communities around the Bluegrass State. But in many places, the affected communities have yet to rise up and take the responsibility upon themselves to do something about it. Here in Boyle County, we have stepped up and taken the first steps on our own.

Now, because of the hard work put in by local people to develop local strategies, we’re going to get a huge amount of funding — perhaps more direct funding for drug rehabilitation than we’ve ever seen before — to grow and further develop those strategies in ways that work for us.

We can already serve as a role model for other counties of how to begin coordinating, communicating and caring for our neighbors battling drug addiction. Now, thanks to this grant, we can take some very important next steps and hopefully bring a lot of that work to the finish line. When other counties choose to follow our lead, they’ll be able to keep following us all the way to success. That’s the power of having a positive, involved community.