KY substance abuse groups focus on recovery equity and expansion
Wednesday, November 22, 2023
A new statewide program in Kentucky is providing addiction advocacy groups and recovery centers with flexible funding to focus on resource equity and expansion of services.
Gary Biggers, program operations manager for the nonprofit Voices for Hope, said the nearly $50,000 grant will be used to provide staff with training centered on listening, empathy, and nonjudgmental communication when working with diverse populations. The group will also work with communities of color to provide education on overdose, substance use trends, and community resources for recovery.
He pointed out large gaps remain in awareness about recovery services and harm reduction in Black and Latino populations.
"It affects all communities, all diversities, all racial backgrounds and ethnicities," Biggers outlined. "Everyone should have those same opportunities and be educated on the resources if they happen to suffer from substance use disorder."
State data show more than 2,100 Kentuckians lost their lives to a drug overdose last year, a decline of more than 5% compared with the previous year and the first decline since 2018. The majority of overdose deaths involved opioids, and fentanyl continues to be a driving factor, accounting for more than 70% of overdose deaths nationwide in 2022. Methamphetamine was also a significant contributor to deaths caused by drug overdoses.
Katie Vogel, director of development for the Hope Center in Lexington, said her organization's $50,000 grant offers a chance to enhance existing services and bring caseworkers into communities. She noted money will go toward a Mobile Case Coordinator who will engage with at least 25 people every month who use drugs, connect them with harm reduction services, and provide referrals to medical care.
"Our mobile outreach is out in the Fayette County, Lexington community five days a week," Vogel explained. "Parked in a different church downtown or a different downtown location every day, to provide resources."
Research shows people who use drugs perceive mobile outreach as a benefit to their communities and themselves by improving access to care, without the stigma associated with walking into to a clinic or drug treatment center.
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