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UNITE Officials Say New Drug Initiative Is Similar To What They Have Been Doing

By: Heather Haley Email
By: Heather Haley Email

Political enemies came together to support an anti-drug bill.

Governor Fletcher and Attorney General Greg Stumbo are asking the general assembly to pass a plan that includes tougher restrictions on internet pharmacies and other measures.

WYMT's Heather Haley spoke with law enforcement officials as well as a former drug addict about what they think needs to be done when it comes to fighting drugs.

All of them agreed stricter polices are important, but many say the fight must start in the communities.

Government officials are asking the general assembly to pass a plan that will have stricter policies on drug treatment, prevention, and law enforcement.

Karen Engle with Operation UNITE says its all very similar to what UNITE has been doing.

"I think of eastern Kentucky as leading the way in this effort. We need more treatment, we know that. We don't need addicts locked in jail, that's why we put 28 drug courts into place," Engle said.

Officials say between 75 and 80 percent of the state's prison population has some form of addiction.

Engle says long-term treatment facilities work best for most drug addicts.

"Most importantly, no matter what treatment program they go to, they can't go back to their same way of life. They can't go back to their same friends, the same peers, sometimes even the same family members that use drugs," Engle said.

That's why former drug addict Steve Collett says the most important thing for drug addicts is community outreach and Collett says he wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for his church accepting him after years of drug abuse.

"I was family, I was part of the church here, community church," Collett said.

Officials say the bill also calls for residents who buy their prescription drugs over the internet to also have an in-person exam by a doctor.

"I think that stiffer penalties would be something great and it would help us out a lot to actually assist in the community," Officer Kyle Morgan said.

"Policy change is important, but if the community doesn't support and understand it then it will not happen," Engle said.

Officials say many programs are already in place to get this plan moving quickly.

They also say the legislation would likely come in two separate proposals before the general assembly.

Legislators return to Frankfort next week.


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