Beshear, Cameron vow bipartisan fight against drug epidemic

Published 9:21 am Tuesday, November 26, 2019

MANCHESTER, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky’s incoming governor and attorney general promised a united front Monday to combat the state’s drug epidemic as they celebrated new recovery efforts in a region hard hit by addiction woes.

Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear and Republican Attorney General-elect Daniel Cameron attended a ribbon cutting for Volunteers of America initiatives in the hometown of state Senate President Robert Stivers. The lineup of state and federal leaders at the event included U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. drug czar Jim Carroll.

Beshear called the drug epidemic the “challenge of our times,” saying it requires a collaborative approach crossing party lines to overcome.

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“This challenge is too big for any type of divides,” Beshear said. “It is one where we must come together because the lives of those we care about hangs in the balance.”

Cameron, preparing to succeed Beshear as attorney general, continued the theme, vowing to work with the incoming governor, the GOP-led legislature and law enforcement to fight drug woes.

“The drug epidemic and the challenges that we have in the commonwealth have no Republican or Democratic designation by them,” Cameron said.

One soon-to-open recovery center in Manchester, Kentucky, will focus on serving women and children suffering the effects of the opioid and substance abuse epidemic.

“Together we will overcome substance use disorder, we will keep families together, we’ll save taxpayer dollars and we’ll change the lives of moms and babies,” Volunteers of America Mid-States President and CEO Jennifer Hancock said.

Meanwhile, the organization has a community center in Manchester for people in recovery. It hosts meetings, classes and workshops to assist in recovery from substance abuse.

Stivers said the initiative represents a “new beginning” for the region and for women, children and others benefiting from the services. McConnell pointed to the “unprecedented levels” of federal funding directed to Kentucky to combat the drug scourge.

“As we continue to bolster our prevention, treatment and enforcement efforts, we can make important strides to stopping the tragedy of addiction from inflicting pain on more Kentucky communities,” he said.

After years of rising death tolls from a surge in drug addiction, Kentucky officials this summer reported the first statewide drop in drug overdose deaths since 2013.

A new report indicated that 1,333 people died from drug overdoses in 2018, down nearly 15% from a record 1,566 deaths the prior year in the Bluegrass State.