Discussion of overdose statistics, possible changes to state drug laws and substance abuse treatment funding were some of the topics on the agenda for the quarterly Whitley County UNITE Coalition meeting Monday.
Whitley County E-911 officials said that based upon a quick check, Whitley County EMS responded to at least 66 overdose complaints in 2017.
“I think that is probably a low number,” noted Whitley County UNITE Coalition Chairwoman Amber Owens. “Those are the ones actually labeled as overdoses.”
Owens said officials don’t have statistics on fatal overdose deaths yet for 2017, but that she would check on that for next quarter’s meeting.
The coalition also discussed some pending legislation in the Kentucky General Assembly this legislative session dealing with changes to drug laws.
Owens noted one of the more interesting bills is House Bill 62, which would change first time drug possession from a felony to misdemeanor offense.
“The punishment would be mandatory treatment and community service. It is pretty open to where the treatment could be. It even includes faith-based treatment facilities,” she added.
In addition, Operation UNITE Treatment/Education Coordinator Dawn Lang told the coalition that there is now over $2 million in additional funding for drug treatment programs in Kentucky thanks to Cures Act funding.
Over 50 substance abuse facilities in the state qualify for the funding, but most faith-based programs do not in part because they don’t have staff members, who meet certain certification requirements, Lang said.
There is no requirement for a judge’s order or anything to qualify for the funding, which is need based. All you have to do is live in Kentucky and fill out the application.
“The only thing that can keep them out of the funding is if they make too much,” she added.
Officials suggested checking with treatment facilities to see if such funding is available there.
Monday’s meeting was held at Brashear’s Restaurant.