McConnell testifies before Senate caucus about Ky.’s heroin epidemic


by WHAS11

Posted on May 14, 2014 at 6:36 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell testified in Washington about the heroin epidemic in Kentucky during the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control.

It's a problem that's growing and affecting communities all across the state.

Senator McConnell told the committee more people die in Kentucky from heroin than car crashes. He told them he believes the solution is a combination of incarceration and treatment.

"Northern Kentucky has a serious, serious, serious heroin problem," McConnell said.

Senator Mitch McConnell called northern Kentucky the epicenter of the nation's heroin addiction.  He addressed the senate caucus on international narcotics control and offered some numbers from the northern Kentucky chamber of commerce.

"The fact these numbers come from a Chamber of Commerce and not a law enforcement agency demonstrate how pervasive the threat to community is," McConnell said.

The chamber of commerce reports cases of hepatitis C are twenty-four times the national rate in northern Kentucky.  He pointed to high rates of death and babies born with drug withdrawal.

"Each case is heartbreaking and is not only costly in human terms, but fiscally as well," McConnell said.

For each human story he told, McConnell also mentioned its actual cost to society. 

The number of people dealing with a heroin addiction is also going up in Louisville.  Jay Davidson runs the Healing Place and sees the increasing influence of the drug.
"We did a spot count one day and 94 percent of the beds were for detox from an heroin addiction," Davidson, Healing Place Chairman, said.

Davidson and McConnell explain they believe the popularity of heroin is partially thanks to the success authorities have had in dealing with prescription drug abuse.  Laws made drugs like oxycoton difficult for people to get their hands on, and raised the price. Drug dealers then started offering a highly addictive and much cheaper drug.

Davidson hopes the senator's testimony leads to more funding for heroin addiction treatment, and feels in the end it will be a cheaper way to deal with the growing use of the drug.

"Contrary to popular belief treatment does work.  The problem is you need the right treatment at the right time, and so it's a matching of the client in the treatment," Davidson said.

McConnell believes the federal government can help deal with the heroin addiction.  He did not get specific, but asked the committee for more resources to be used in stopping the drug's growth.