Kentucky's Drug Epidemic

​Improving Access to Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Kentucky

In March 2021, the Pew Charitable Trusts (Pew) was invited to provide the Commonwealth of Kentucky with technical assistance on its substance use disorder (SUD) programs and policies and provide a set of policy recommendations. To better understand the strengths and gaps in Kentucky’s treatment system, Pew met with more than 100 key stakeholders, analyzed available federal and state data, and reviewed the current legal and regulatory landscape.
The scope of this memo is treatment for opioid use disorder (OUD), including expanding access to medications for opioid use disorders (MOUD) and behavioral therapy, particularly for justice-involved individuals who would benefit from diversion from jail to substance use treatment.
By way of this memo, Pew provides 12 policy options categorized by four domains that will build on Kentucky’s efforts to address the opioid crisis and may result in measurable improvements in access to MOUD.   To read the memo in its entirety, click here:  Pew Kentucky Memo FINAL.pdf

Gov. Andy Beshear Announces $4.6 Million in Grants to Expand Treatment and Recovery Services Including those for Pregnant and Parenting Women with Opioid Use Disorders

Gov. Andy Beshear along with the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) and the Kentucky Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities (KDBHDID) announced that a total of $4,645,070 has been awarded to twelve non-profit organizations throughout the commonwealth. The total grant funding has been distributed among Community Mental Health Centers and Neonatal Abstinence Treatment Programs from the Senate Bill 192 Treatment Grant which is administered by ODCP.

The grant awards are primarily focused on addressing Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) by offering comprehensive residential treatment services to pregnant and parenting women.

ODCP and the KDBHDID collaborated together on reviewing and administrating funding to licensed not-for-profit organizations that are aggressively addressing NAS by developing or expanding comprehensive evidence-based residential treatment services and/or outpatient treatment and recovery supports to pregnant and parenting women with opioid use disorders who are transitioning from residential services.

The full list of the Community Mental Health Centers and Neonatal Abstinence Treatment Programs subaward recipients to receive funding from SB 192 Treatment Grant:


  • Cumberland River BH - $250,000
  • Lake Cumberland (Adanta) - $212,600
  • Lifeskills, Inc. - $241,900
  • Mountain Comprehensive Care Center - $250,000
  • NorthKey - $250,000
  • Pathways - $250,000
  • Pennyroyal - $250,000
  • River Valley - $250,000
  • Seven Counties - $250,000
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

  • Communicare - $242,000
  • Chrysalis House - $250,000
  • Cumberland River BH - $248,600
  • Lifeskills - $213,400
  • Mountain Comp Care - $250,000
  • Pathways - $250,000
  • River Valley - $248,700
  • Seven Counties - $250,000
  • UKRF-PATHways - $238,800
  • Volunteers of America - $249,900

Senate Bill 192 ~ " The Heroin Bill" 

The most talked-about issue of the General Assembly’s 2015 session was also a main focus of the late-night closing hours of the session as lawmakers struck an agreement on a comprehensive bill to battle the state’s heroin epidemic.

Heroin is devastating Kentucky families in a number of ways, and the legislation approved strikes back against the deadly drug on a number of fronts. The multi-prong approach includes stronger penalties for dealers and traffickers and better treatment options for addicts seeking help.

 Lawmakers approved the legislation, Senate Bill 192, just hours before adjourning the 2015 session in the early morning of March 25. The bill was signed into law later that morning by Gov. Steve Beshear. Since the bill contained an emergency clause, it took effect as state law as soon as the governor signed it.

Under the new law, importing heroin into Kentucky with intent to distribute or sell is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Those convicted of selling between 2 grams and 100 grams of heroin will not be eligible for parole before serving at least half of their five to ten years sentences. Those caught selling even more would face sentences of up to 20 years.

The new law also recognizes the health crisis that heroin poses and provides new funds to make treatment more widely available to those seeking help. The state’s addiction treatment system will receive an immediate $10 million boost followed by $24 million annually.

 Another newly established tool in the fight against the health problems associated with heroin will permit clean needle exchanges at health departments, if a local jurisdiction approves. Supporters say the needle exchange programs show success in curbing the spread of Hepatitis C and HIV infection from shared needles. The programs also bring addicts into health departments where they’ll be closer to the state’s network of care and more likely to seek help for their addictions.

SB 192 will increase the availability of naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose if promptly administered. The bill also encourages people to call for help when overdose victims need it by including a “Good Samaritan” provision. That will shield people from prosecution when they seek help for someone who overdoses.