NKY outlines plan to fight growing heroin problem

NORTHERN KENTUCKY (FOX19) - A study from the leadership team of the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response outlines a 4-year plan for $16 million to help fight the growing heroin problem.

The group says changes in education, prevention, support and protection is needed to fight the drug's popularity.

It's taken about a year to put nearly 50 pages of the study together.

"How do we stop what's happening in Northern Kentucky?" asks Dr. Lynne Saddler of the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

That's the burning question.

Heroin use has been called an epidemic on the streets of Northern Kentucky.

"I don't think we really have a choice. We can't continue going down the path that we're going down," said Saddler.

Saddler was part of that group that worked on the study. She says the $16 million to fight the drug's growth could come from grant money, or could come from resources already available in governments, but would need shifted around.

One Northern Kentucky woman, Patty Smith, knows how big the heroin problem really is. She used "Casey's Law" to jail her daughter, Stacey, in an effort to get her help for her addiction to heroin.

"It's been three weeks clean. I will tell you that it is a struggle every day of her life. Every day, when she wakes up, she has to choose, 'Am I going to use heroin. Am I going to take a pill, or am I going to get by today,'" said Patty Smith, who has a daughter battling a heroin addiction.

The study shows court cases for heroin possession and trafficking are up 500% in Boone, Kenton and Campbell Counties from 2008-2012. Those are the same three places that accounted for 60% of Kentucky's heroin prosecutions in 2011, so says the study.

"Something's got to give. It has to give. Where do we go from here? We've lost children. How many people have we lost this year to heroin," Smith added.

In a report cited from just last month in the study set to be released Thursday, drug overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 in Kentucky. That puts the Bluegrass State third in the nation behind West Virginia and New Mexico.

"This is about the people of Northern Kentucky. We want a healthier Northern Kentucky," Saddler told FOX19.

The entire study will be presented to the public Thursday at 6 PM at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

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