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Drug Czar Hears Kentucky Perspective On Heroin Epidemic

Josh James

White House National Drug Control Policy Director Michael Botticelli is applauding the creation of a new task force devoted to studying the growing drug problem in Kentucky’s Sixth District. The drug czar attended a roundtable discussion with regional leaders Thursday in Lexington.

The drug policy head made the stop at the George Privett Recovery Center for Men to get a firsthand look at the state’s strategies for rolling back the heroin abuse tide. A former alcoholic who’s been sober for more than 25 years, Botticelli is encouraging communities to shift from an incarceration-centered, “War on Drugs” mindset to models that shepherd substance abusers through treatment and back into society.

"They need housing, employment. We need to promote the voice of people in recovery," he says. "And so today was, I think, a really good example of how you bring every sector of the community together to really focus on comprehensive solutions."

And officials want that dialogue to continue – in part through a new drug task force announced by Congressman Andy Barr. The Sixth District Representative says Thursday’s roundtable should be viewed as a starting point, not a one-time meeting.

"We want this to be a catalyst for more opportunities to break down those silos, facilitate collaboration, facilitate cooperation," Barr says.

Between 2012 and 2013, the Office of Drug Control Policy reported that Fayette County saw the largest increase in overdose deaths in the state.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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