Our View: Opioid plan doesn’t go far enough

Published 9:35 am Friday, June 30, 2017

Although we are happy to see Gov. Matt Bevin and state lawmakers focusing on prescription drug abuse, recent announcements feel somewhat like sticking a finger in the dam.

Earlier this week, Bevin announced an education campaign, “Don’t Let Them Die,” that includes promoting messages about what opioids are, where to find overdose medication, treatment options and more.

This complements legislation passed by the 2017 General Assembly that limits opioid prescriptions to a three-day supply and increases penalties for trafficking convictions involving especially dangerous drugs like Fentanyl.

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These are certainly positive steps toward raising awareness but still fall well short of the holistic strategy needed to combat an issue that has reached epidemic proportions across our nation, especially in rural parts of America like Central Kentucky.

Education campaigns are a good start. Limiting access is also positive, but the move to reduce the supply of some prescription painkillers to only three days will likely have a negative impact on those who actually need the medication.

And, unless there is an effort to tighten the laws in neighboring states and fully eliminate “pill mill” doctor’s offices, the easy access problem is likely to continue unabated.

A true comprehensive strategy to help individuals overcome addiction must also include investment in rehabilitation programs and strategic measures to correct the behaviors that led an individual down this life path.

It must also include employment opportunities to allow people to break away from the associations and lifestyles that let them to spiral out of control in the first place.

The key part to someone making a life change is being able to overcome the obstacles that were pitfalls before and reenter society is a productive member.

Bevin’s education campaign and the newly enacted state laws are good “bricks” but must be part of a larger foundation that builds toward a comprehensive strategy to break the cycle of addiction.