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Kentucky Fighting Against Youth Opiate Epidemic

Opiates make up the majority of drug overdoses. Opiates consist of narcotic prescription painkillers as well as their more dangerous street cousin, heroin. Addicts usually graduate from abusing painkillers when their prescription runs out or they can no longer afford them on the black market. That's when many addicts turn to cheaper and more dangerous heroin. Heroin is more dangerous because it is not FDA approved (nor regulated) which means that you never know the potency of the heroin you are getting. You also do not know what other agents are mixed in with the heroin, therefore making each dose potentially fatal.

Kentucky has been dealing with the opiate epidemic throughout the state. Even the smallest towns in Kentucky are feeling the affects from the abuse. High unemployment rates are partially being blamed for the rise in drug abuse in the state. Thanks to $1.37 million grant award from the Kentucky Kids Recovery funds, Necco will provide drug and alcohol abuse prevention and treatment programs statewide for the first time. Kentucky's youth who are struggling with opiate addiction now have access to more treatment resources than ever before.

Founded in 1997, Necco is a multi-state provider of behavioral health and community based services, and the largest provider of such services in the state of Kentucky. Necco’s mission is to serve at-risk youth of all ages and their families who face an array of challenges. Serving more than 1,400 recipients, the company offers programs such as therapeutic foster care, alternatives to secure detention, independent living, intensive home-based treatment, mental health, community living and more.

So where did all of this money come from? The funding came from two pharmaceutical settlements totaling $32 million. $19 of the $32 million is earmarked for states adolescent treatment, including opiate addiction according to Attorney General Jack Conway's office.

The amount of help that Necco can bring to the young children from the community will certainly help to save lives. With the lack of resources before this grant, they will now be able to help the youth receive treatment and education programs. Educating young teens of the dangers of these drugs will become more widespread which is paramount in curbing the amount of people affected by opiates. Necco’s program will take a community and in-home based approach to substance abuse for adolescents. It is a cost effective alternative to traditional residential treatment options, encompassing many services provided by all 10 Necco offices throughout Kentucky. “We are excited to provide services to kids in their communities, with their families,” said Pam Priddy, executive director of Necco Kentucky. Priddy said Necco plans to offer programs such as parenting classes, alcohol and drug education, intensive in-home work with children and their families plus much more.

First Lady Beshear and Attorney General Conway are long-time advocates in the fight against drug abuse in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and have championed various programs and initiatives that provide much needed treatment. It looks like Kentucky is making the right decisions in helping to educate and reduce drug abuse.

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