U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) welcomed a record crowd to the 5th National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit, hosted by Operation UNITE, a non-profit organization working to combat the drug abuse epidemic in southern and eastern Kentucky. Nearly 2,000 people are registered to attend the four-day conference at the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta, Georgia. It is the largest collaboration of professionals devoted to finding solutions to the national drug abuse epidemic, uniting a broad spectrum of leaders from law enforcement and government, to the treatment and education communities.
"The rapid growth of this summit is truly a testament to the power of unity. Everyone here has one common goal - to save lives from the dark clenches of drug abuse," said Rogers, who helped launch UNITE in 2003. "I'm proud to see UNITE in the national spotlight, where the organization's holistic approach is now being used as a national model."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), someone in America dies every 20 minutes from an opioid overdose.
"UNITE renamed the summit this year, adding 'heroin' abuse to the name. Throughout our discussions this week, we will be focusing on the rapid rise in heroin overdose deaths and the direct link to prescription drug abuse," said Rogers.
Rogers applauded U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for being selected to lead President Obama's new "Rural America Opioid Initiative." The program intends to address the 76% shortage in mental illness and substance abuse service in rural areas.
Secretary Vilsack was also joined by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and Governor Earl Ray Tomblin of West Virginia to discuss federal and state efforts to curb the tide of drug abuse.
For more information about the Rx Summit, visit http://nationalrxdrugabusesummit.org.
Congressman Rogers and Rx Summit Keynote Speakers
Congressman Rogers Welcomes Attendees to the 5th National Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit