PRESTONSBURG, Ky. (WYMT) - Officials say prescription drug abuse is leading the drug epidemic. They say treating the addiction is key, but limited funding for treating substance abuse is making that difficult.
"You wouldn't believe the amount of overdoses we've seen throughout the years, and it's just getting worse," said Sgt. Brian Walker with the Prestonsburg Police Department.
Mountain Comprehensive Care's Layne House in Prestonsburg is just one of a few dozen residential treatment centers in Kentucky, and officials there say they see their fair share of pill abusers.
"It's the number one used substance that we get admissions into our inpatient program," said Addictions Program Coordinator Christy Hicks.
Both law enforcement and officials at the treatment centers say just arresting the drug abusers is not going to solve anything. They say it is a much bigger issue stemming from addiction.
"It's not a problem. It's a disease. It's no different than if a person had diabetes hypertension," said Hicks.
But the treatment centers are struggling. Funding has not changed in nearly a decade, so many patients have to pay out of pocket. Many private insurance companies will not pay either.
"Even though they'll pay for mental health treatment and things like that, substance abuse just has not been on the radar," said Hicks.
For the most severe cases inpatient treatment may be what they need but cannot afford.
"I'm getting them off the street and I'm getting the off the roadway, but I'm really not helping them. We actually do need some type of program where they can go into, and I'd say they probably do need a lot more money," said Sgt. Walker.
Hicks says help from the community makes a small difference. "We have all kinds of community partners working together to be able to get grants and things like that," she said.
For now they say they are just doing whatever they can to slow the increase in drug addiction.
A study by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center shows that prescription pill abuse increased by nearly 300% in from 2000 to 2010.