LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, addressed the state’s opioid epidemic at a news conference in Louisville on Monday.
Joined by drug czar Jim Carroll, and Volunteers of America Mid-States President and CEO Jennifer Hancock, McConnell said legislators are increasingly introducing bills involving both the law-enforcement aspect and the treatment-and-recovery aspect of the outbreak.
“In Kentucky, regretfully, we’ve been right in the middle of (the epidemic) now for the last few years,” McConnell said.
Carroll, the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, said McConnell has been a strong leader in the fight against drug addiction.
“Sen. Majority Leader McConnell has been instrumental in passing key legislation, not only for the mothers who need protection and need help, but also in terms of helping peopple who have the disease of addiction finding a job, getting them back into society and making sure that they have employment,” Carroll said.
Carroll also shared a story about a restaurateur who operates five eateries, two of which are staffed by recovering addicts.
“Hiring someone in recovery is not only helping them, but it’s helping the business,” he said. “These people who are in recovery and starting their lives over again are some of the hardest-working people that (employers have) found.”
Hancock addressed how the goals of Volunteers of America are aimed at not only ending addiction, but helping people prosper as they recover.
“As part of treatment here, the reason that it could take three, six, nine months, is because before you are discharged, not only are you stable in your long-term recovery, (but you also) have a job, you’ve re-entered the work force, you’ve learned a skill or trade or you’ve returned to school,” she said.
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, said he’s seen first-hand what the opioid crisis can do in rural areas, which make up the entirety of the District 25 that he serves.
“Hopefully we can bring a metropolitan solution to a rural area,” he said.
Near the end of the news conference, Carroll was asked about the hot-button border wall that’s been a signature issue for President Donald Trump since before he was elected. Carroll said the wall is needed to prevent drugs from coming into the country at remote locations between ports of entry.