Recovering addicts say $6B not enough to fight opioid crisis, but it’s a start

PADUCAH, KY — Opioid abuse is costing the country more than $78 billion a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed a massive two-year budget deal that includes $6 billion of additional funding to combat opioid and substance abuse.

Some recovering addicts say the money isn’t a lot, but it’s a start.

Josh Vanover didn’t plan to become addicted to opioids. It just happened.

“Went into a doctor’s office with a migraine and left with a prescription,” says Vanover.

Vanover says the doctor prescribed him opioid pain killers. Out of all the substances he’s had to fight addicted to, including meth and alcohol, opioids were his hardest battle.

“Life becomes a living hell,” says Vanover. “I mean, it’s fun whenever you begin, and then you just kind of get to the point where you just try to maintain, and that’s where you hurt the people who love you the most.”

Vanover’s actions eventually landed him in jail.

“Out there, you’re just learning more and more about other ways to break into houses, other ways to do other drugs, and things like that,” says Vanover. “There’s nothing positive that comes out of sitting in a jail cell.”

Vanover entered treatment nine months ago at CenterPoint Recovery Center For Men. He has since graduated, and is now helping mentor other addicts.

“There are people sitting in jail cells waiting for beds to open up,” says Vanover. “There’s a six to nine month waiting list to get in here if you’re trying to get in here off the streets.”

Jeff Scott says he’s lucky he got in, and is now getting help for his opioid addiction.

“Back at home, I don’t know anybody that’s not strung out on pills or something,” says Scott. “Half of them would probably love to get help if they had the opportunity to, but there’s just not a lot of places to go to.”

Scott says he hopes the additional government funding will be used to open more treatment facilities in Kentucky. He says you can’t prevent an opioid addiction, but you can help someone recover from it.

“People think of it as a choice, but it’s not. It’s a disease, and it’s hard to kick it by yourself,” says Scott.

As of now, we don’t know specifically how that $6 billion is going to be used over the next two years.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell posted on twitter Thursday saying the money will be used to fund new grants, prevention programs, and law enforcement initiatives across the county.

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