Kentucky named among states hit hard by heroin, prescription opioid epidemic

Chances are you or someone you know has been impacted by heroin or prescription opioids. President Barack Obama named Kentucky as one of five states hit especially hard by the epidemic. His budget request for 2017 includes $1.1 billion to fight the problem.

The Centerpoint Recovery Center for men gave Keegan Gerth and Cody Glenn a second chance at life.

"It saved my life, because I would have died. I would have died absolutely," Gerth said. 

Gerth became dependent on prescription medications at a young age.

"They’re everywhere, doesn’t matter how young how old you are. You can find somebody who knows how to get them," Gerth said.

Glenn also started relying on prescription drugs. His addiction to them continued until he started to use heroin. 

"My family, friends, my job, my career, I lost all of that," Glenn said.

Both are now counselors at the Centerpoint Recovery Center in Paducah, which also does outreach to prevent the growing problem. 

Centerpoint site administrator Thelma Hunter says data show a 70 percent to 75 percent success rate for clients who complete Centerpoint’s program. A University of Kentucky survey shows for every dollar spent on recovery services in the state, taxpayers save almost $3.

Hunter says the problem is there just aren’t enough recovery centers in the area for all the people who need them.

"Let me put it this way: I have over 100 people on a waiting list right now, and I could fill it tomorrow if I had another building this size," Hunter said.

She says national funding would help more people get the services they need and create more outreach to prevent the problem from growing.

The funds the president is seeking to fight this epidemic would fund treatment capacity and make services more affordable. It would also improve access to the overdose-reversal drug Naloxone.

Many local pharmacies are certified to prescribe it, but they haven’t got a lot of inquiries. One pharmacist told me he thinks it’s because many people aren’t aware of it.

Centerpoint Recovery is the only Recovery Kentucky center for men in the area. Recovery Kentucky centers are long-term treatment centers that follow a 12 step program a designed to reduce the state’s drug problem.The closest women’s centers are located in Henderson and Hopkinsville.

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