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Newspaper finds Ky. drug treatment options limited

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 25, 2012 at 8:39 am •  Published: December 25, 2012

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A newspaper investigation has found that in a state plagued with one of the worst prescription drug abuse problems in the nation, treatment options are woefully limited.

The Courier-Journal ( ) reports the problem is even worse for hard-core addicts in need of the most intense care. The newspaper published a series of stories on the problem last week as part of a years-long look at the state's prescription drug abuse epidemic.

The newspaper found:

. 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.

. Nearly 80 percent of Kentucky sites listed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration — 235 — are for outpatients only, typically offering one hour of care a week. The other 26 include a mix of non-residential types, or another type, such as hospital detoxification.

. Kentuckians tend to get less intensive treatment than Americans overall. Two-thirds of the 21,474 Kentuckians admitted for treatment of any drug addiction in 2009 entered once-weekly outpatient care, compared with 46 percent nationally. Less than 5 percent entered residential care, compared with 17 percent nationally.

. 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.

. The state's overwhelming need for treatment means that addicts face waiting lists even in the two counties with the most centers — Jefferson with 32 and Fayette with 25.

"We absolutely do not have the treatment we need, not even close," Attorney General Jack Conway said, adding that experts say Kentucky has less than a third of the treatment beds it needs. "We need more beds."

Kentucky's behavioral health department budget for substance abuse has remained virtually unchanged for a decade, providing $29 million for contracted treatment centers in 2012.

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