Parents, politicians fed up with addiction call for change

Parents, politicians fed up with addiction call for change
Published: Aug. 31, 2016 at 8:16 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 31, 2016 at 10:22 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A public health warning has been issued as potent and deadly heroin arrives in Louisville. Doctors reported two dozen overdoses at area hospitals in 24 hours.

Parents along with state and local politicians on both sides of the aisle got together to call for serious action Wednesday in the fight against heroin. The Fed Up rally at Sixth and Jefferson Streets got emotional.

"Since my son's passing there has been nothing but increases in overdose deaths," one mother, Emily Walden, said.

Walden said four years ago she lost the light of her life; her son T.J., a 21-year-old in the National Guard who lost his life after becoming addicted to painkillers. Her frustration comes with little change in the four years since his death and news of 24 overdoses in Louisville on Tuesday alone.

"Our federal government needs to step in at this point," Walden said.

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Marcus Miller drives his "Stop Heroin Truck" around town just hoping for stares. The truck covered in stop heroin messages is a tribute to his son. His 26-year-old namesake, Marcus, lost his life to heroin in 2014.

"I do it for him," Miller said, "I just have to do something for him."

Miller is angry at pawn shops that he says allowed his son to pawn goods for drug money after he pleaded with them not to. Parents with only photos to hang onto now want more federal money and oversight when it comes to prescription opioid and heroin addiction and state lawmakers agree. They say they're angry with Congress for failing to include an Executive Branch proposal for $1 billion in new funding in the recently passed Comprehensive Addiction and Treatment Act, or CARA. They say CARA won't have much impact without funding for addiction treatment.

Justice Secretary John Tilley told the crowd, "In Kentucky, we lost 1,248 Kentuckians last year - that's 1,248 families, mothers and fathers and loved ones 1,248 too many."

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Attorney General Andy Beshear added, "I'm fed up with the reality that my six and seven-year-olds are growing up in a world where they will be offered heroin before they finish high school."

Jefferson County Attorney Mike O'Connell said the Healing Place has doubled its capacity just to take care of heroin addicts.

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"We need to put these people out of business while we're trying to save lives on the back end," he told people at the rally. "To those that are in Congress, I say, get some guts and get some courage and stand up here and help save the lives of the people you say on a daily basis you represent."

The Kentucky Harm Reduction Coalition also gave out 41 naloxone kits Wednesday demonstrating how to use the medication to reverse an overdose.

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