Mayor Greg Fischer joined Public Health Director and Chief Health Strategist Dr. Sarah Moyer, community members and officials from agencies and organizations across the city to release Coming Together for Hope, Healing and Recovery, a report and two-year action plan to address substance use and misuse in Louisville.
Coming Together for Hope, Healing and Recovery includes a science-based analysis of the use of illegal drugs, tobacco and alcohol in Louisville and ways to accelerate the city’s fight against drug abuse. Work on the two-year action plan began last July when the Department of Public Health and Wellness convened a wide-ranging group that included people in recovery, leaders of nonprofits, law enforcement, health care institutions, experts of social work, school officials, concerned parents and scholars. Over the following months, work groups studied the problem, examined initiatives already in place in Louisville and in other cities, and created the two-year plan.
“America is facing one of the most serious drug epidemics in history, with opioid use taking a devastating toll,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “We’re proud of the efforts we’ve taken to fight it thus far, but we know we have to do more. Working together and implementing these recommendations will put us on a stronger path toward hope, healing and recovery.”
The report makes specific evidence-based recommendations to be implemented over the next two years. It proposes new initiatives and advocates for expanding and strengthening programs already in place that are proving to be effective. They include:
- Enacting new policies to establish safe and reliable sober living residences, increasing quality recovery options.
- Expanding diversion from jails and emergency rooms though programs like the Centerstone Living Room Project.
- Increasing harm reduction education and opioid overdose prevention by expanding syringe access and ensuring greater access to naloxone.
- Reducing stigma by promoting public understanding of substance use disorder as a chronic illness and publicizing access to crisis support.
- Expanding recovery support by advocating for more affordable record expungement to aid those in recovery.
- Increasing peer support in emergency rooms to better connect patients to treatment.
- Connecting employers with treatment providers to increase job placement opportunities for those working to overcome substance use.
- Developing quality metrics to measure effectiveness of treatment providers.
- Reducing youth substance use by establishing a community-wide coalition to prevent substance use, integrating resilience building, trauma-informed care and Adverse Childhood Experiences into initiatives for young people.
“Finding solutions to the problem of substance use disorder and creating a more resilient community requires the involvement of all of us,” said Dr. Moyer. “Specific organizations and individuals across the community have stepped up to champion each of the plan’s goals. This greatly increases our chances for success and making Louisville a city where everyone and every community can thrive.”
Findings of the report also include a picture of substance use in the area:
- Overdose deaths in Louisville have increased every year since 2011. In 2016, the age-adjusted drug overdose death rate in Louisville was more than double what it was in 2011.
- Drug misuse is widespread across Louisville. In 2016, Metro Emergency Medical Services (EMS) performed overdose runs in every single Metro Louisville ZIP Code, without exception. From 2011 – 2016, there were overdose deaths in nearly every Louisville ZIP Code.
- Overdose deaths caused by synthetic opioid analgesics, such as fentanyl, have increased 10 times from 2012 to 2016, and overdose deaths caused by heroin have increased 7 times from 2011 to 2016.
- While the use of illicit drugs garners significant media attention and community concern, tobacco and alcohol use remain far more pervasive throughout Louisville and affect many more people.
- The age-adjusted alcohol-induced death rates in Louisville Metro are consistently higher than state and national rates.
- According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Youth Tobacco Survey, the use of e-cigarettes among young people has surpassed the use of conventional cigarettes since 2011.
To see the entire report go to louisville.ky.gov