WASHINGTON, DC -- Federal funding will soon help more Eastern Kentuckians gain access to substance abuse treatment and recovery support. U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05) announced a $250,000 grant has been awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to Operation UNITE, a non-profit organization that Congressman Rogers launched in 2003 to combat the deadly drug abuse epidemic in Eastern Kentucky through law enforcement, treatment and education. Operation UNITE, now nationally recognized for its unique three-pronged approach, will utilize the grant to create community partnerships to reach more individuals struggling with opioid-use disorder (OUD).
"In Kentucky, more than 1,500 people died from drug overdoses last year alone, and across America a deadly overdose occurs every seven minutes. It's heartbreaking, because we know those deaths are preventable through treatment and recovery support, as well as increased education," said Rogers, who helped secure funding for the grant program through his role as Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee. "This funding will extend the reach of UNITE with key partners across Southern and Eastern Kentucky to provide services that will give hope to individuals and families suffering with addiction."
Operation UNITE's new consortium of partners include the Kentucky River District Health Department, Primary Care Centers of Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky State Police, LKLP Transportation, Addiction Recovery Care Centers and Hope in the Mountains. The group of partners will identify individuals at-risk of overdose and coordinate care and recovery options.
"Our number one message at UNITE is there is hope for recovery from addiction. In fact, we continue to see countless lives saved in Eastern Kentucky as a direct result of compassionate people and organizations who are committed to be part of the solution," said Nancy Hale, President and CEO of Operation UNITE. "As the mother of a son in recovery, I know first-hand the challenges that families face. Addiction impacts entire families and communities. That's why we need partners to join us year after year to advance hope and education across our region."
The initiative is targeted in seven counties, including Knott, Lee, Leslie, Letcher, Owsley, Perry and Wolfe. It will provide 38 additional vouchers for substance abuse treatment for individuals who otherwise cannot afford it, while consortium members will promote and expand education and outreach efforts in the designated counties. The initiative will also work in concert with the Kentucky State Police's Angel Initiative to offer additional services to those who seek help with substance abuse at a state police post.
More than 4,400 people have received a free treatment voucher through Operation UNITE since 2003.
Last year, Operation UNITE's treatment hotline expanded statewide to provide more support to individuals and families impacted by OUD. For information about substance abuse treatment options, call 1-833-8KY-HELP.
To learn more about Congressman Rogers’ efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, click here.