To the Editor – For over a year, I have read tragically similar stories about families and friends losing loved ones to heroin addictions, overdoses, and deaths. While Kentucky has made strides in reducing illegal prescription drugs, drug abuse remains a scourge that fractures families and hurts our economic health, safety, and quality of life. Police cite heroin as a major contributor to the increase in burglaries, theft, and prostitution. The heroin tsunami has swept over the Northern Kentucky community and inundated our health delivery services as it continues on to flood the rest of the state.
In the 2013 Session, I sponsored Senate Bill 6 that made clear that an overdose death from a Schedule I drug such as heroin is a foreseeable event. Schedule I drugs are highly addictive and have no legitimate medical use. SB 6 stated that the illegal trafficking of these types of drugs is sufficient to support a charge of criminal homicide in an overdose death. In addition, the bill directed coroners to report heroin deaths to, among others, Commonwealth attorneys so that they may more effectively prosecute these cases. Unfortunately, the bill was killed in the House.
It’s inexcusable that the entire state could have begun to benefit from these common-sense penalties on heroin distribution. Fortunately, some, like Fayette County, have already started to implement many of the bill’s recommendations. The U.S. Attorney from the Eastern District is also employing the same tough measures as SB 6.
I will be filing similar legislation in 2014. We are also considering allowing first-responders to administer Narcan, a drug that can immediately counter the effects of an overdose. In addition, we need to use the model of Louisville’s The Healing Place as an efficient and effective way to treat addicts. Combating heroin abuse requires a three-pronged approach: interdiction, education, and treatment. Working together, we can make a difference.