Every so often, we’re reminded of the power of communities to mobilize and improve conditions for their citizens and outlying neighborhoods. Whether it’s an issue with drug trafficking, relations with law enforcement, environmental impact or anything else, real change starts at the grass-roots level with people who are directly affected by the problem that needs changing. Officials in Northern Kentucky-a region of the United States that has been hit particularly hard by the American opioid crisis-has demonstrated such a commitment to ground-level change with a bold new initiative that makes it harder for addicts to access prescription drugs for illicit use.
The Northern Kentucky Health Department has partnered with Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and several local officials and businesses to launch a program that will provide free drug disposal pouches to ensure that medications are disposed of properly. The organization announced the collaboration in a statement in which they also said officials will announce details of the initiative Thursday at the Boone County Sheriff's Office in Burlington. The initiative makes permanent in the area, the same kind of one-day opioid-disposal events we’ve seen in Kentucky as well as the rest of the country, including Florida and Texas. Further details are expected to be forthcoming.
In addition to federal and state funding, law enforcement awareness, increased treatment options and other vital anti-overdoses resources, community involvement is key to preventing the further proliferation of localized drug trafficking and abuse. In 2015, the state of Kentucky saw nearly 1,250 overdose deaths, an increase of over 200 from the previous year. Local officials have cause to believe the problem is getting worse. Like most areas of the United States, the proliferation of fentanyl has spiked overall overdose rates in the region. Most recently, the city of Louisville recorded 52 overdoses in a 32-hour period, a trend which area hospitals and law enforcement say is likely to continue.
Kentucky’s proactive action reminds communities everywhere of their power to affect change and keep themselves and he people around them safe. A culture of drug trafficking seriously erodes quality of life in any community it touches, and the sooner we realize that, and work to prevent it, the better off we will be. While we can’t expect our friends and neighbors to solve the world’s addiction problems, we can start the process of incremental change by asking ourselves what we can do to curb addiction in our own corners of the world.