|U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-5th District|
“People of great passion and perspective are here wanting to make an impact in their communities,” said U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, who first funded Operation UNITE. “The first step is we have to admit there is a problem. I don’t think the country is there yet. We’ve got to face up to it. We’ve got to make this known … and that we’re not going to hide from it.” Rogers was quoted in a news release.
UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) serves 32 counties in Eastern Kentucky. It was created to fight illegal drug use through a comprehensive approach that includes educating youth and the public and coordinating substance abuse treatment while providing support for families affected by abuse.
In Kentucky, drug overdose is the leading cause of death and is more fatal than motor vehicle accidents, and the number of Kentucky drug-overdose deaths nearly quadrupling from 2000 to 2010. The nation has seen a similar trend, with the number of overdose deaths more than tripling over the decade.
“We can stop this epidemic,” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the summit. “But we need everyone working together in an all-hands-on-deck approach.”
Themes highlighted at the summit included the need to provide better education about drug abuse, the need for greater use and seamless integration of state prescription-monitoring programs, the need to facilitate effective treatment and recovery programs, and the need for abuse-deterrent narcotic formulations.
“We were extremely pleased that so many individuals representing such a broad cross-section of interests shared their knowledge and expertise,” said Karen Kelly, who is leaving Operation UNITE to become district director on the Rogers congressional staff. To read more about the summit, click here.