In starting its sixth package in series on prescription drug abuse, The Courier-Journal shows treatment programs fall short of need

Brittany Crouch suffers through withdrawal in Frenchburg
leaving for treatment in Lexington, as daughter
Adams, 3, cries. (C-J photo by Alton Strupp)

“In a state plagued by one of the worst prescription-drug abuse problems in the nation . . . treatment options are woefully limited, especially for hard-core addicts in need of the most intense care, Laura Ungar reports for The Courier-Journal in the opening story of its sixth package in the series called “Prescription for Tragedy.”

“Only 40 of Kentucky’s 301 treatment and recovery sites offer 24-hour
residential care, which experts say may be the only hope for the most
severely addicted. And those 40 centers are concentrated in just 19 of
the state’s 120 counties, mostly in urban areas, meaning addicts in
rural counties often must travel hours for help, Ungar writes, noting that almost 80 percent of the sites “are for outpatients
only, typically offering one hour of care a week.”

That is the type of care received by two-thirds of Kentuckians admitted for treatment, but by 46 percent nationwide in 2009, the last year for which comparative figures are available. Fewer than 5 percent “entered residential
care, compared with 17 percent nationally,” Ungar writes. “Treatment shortages are most severe in Appalachian counties with the
state’s highest overdose rates. Six Kentucky counties that rank among
the 10 highest for overdose deaths have just one outpatient center or no
center at all.” (Read more)

Today’s package includes a map of treatment centers in the state; in the print version, it is overlaid on a county map showing rates of death from prescription drugs, with the highest in Appalachian Kentucky. The dots in green, yellow and red on the Google-based map below indicate centers that provide care more intensive than outpatient.

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