Kentucky General Assembly Adopts Resolutions to Address Social Determinants of Addiction Recovery Resolutions urge a more comprehensive approach to addiction treatment and long-term recovery
FRANKFORT, Ky. – RECON KY, a statewide coalition committed to helping more Kentuckians reach long-term recovery, applauds the General Assembly for adopting resolutions to recognize the Social Determinants of Addiction Recovery. The resolutions, introduced by Senate President Robert Stivers and Representative Adam Bowling, were adopted March 11, 2021 and highlight the need for a more comprehensive, person-centered approach to addiction treatment and recovery—something that has become even more important given the pandemic’s impacts on mental health and substance use.
The resolutions urge Kentucky legislators, public officials, treatment providers and other stakeholders to work together to better address the social determinants of addiction recovery, including:
Effective and accessible health care to treat physical, mental and behavioral health
Employment and educational opportunities
Safe and affordable housing
Transportation for treatment and to support recovery
Childcare to encourage workforce participation and stop the cycle of addiction
By ensuring access to all these services, advocates say more Kentuckians will be able to achieve long-term recovery.
“As we continue to address one public health crisis, we cannot overlook another that has continued to devastate many Kentucky families and communities,” said Senate President Robert Stivers. “While we have made great strides in reducing stigma around addiction and connecting people with treatment and resources, our work is still cut out for us in addressing all the social determinants of recovery. My fellow legislators and I remain committed to ensuring that Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorders have the comprehensive tools, resources and education they need to lead healthy, productive lives.”
“Substance use disorder is a complex and deadly disease that doesn’t discriminate based on race, age, income or zip code. That’s why it’s so important to bring treatment, prevention and recovery services to Kentuckians in all parts of the state,” said Rep. Adam Bowling. “Addiction has negatively impacted Kentucky families and communities for far too long, but I’m confident that we can work together to bridge the gaps in our recovery systems and put more Kentuckians on the path to lifelong recovery.”
“If we are serious about combating addiction in our communities, we need to ensure Kentuckians can access the wide-ranging services and supports needed to achieve long-term recovery,” said Tim Robinson, president and CEO of Addiction Recovery Care (ARC) and founding member of RECON KY. “From childcare and job training, to transportation and housing, we should be doing everything we can to set up Kentuckians in recovery for success.”
“When it comes to addiction recovery, we must prioritize long-term outcomes over short-term results. Education, job training and stable employment are critical parts of the equation,” said Beth Davisson, vice president of workforce development for the Kentucky Chamber. “By working together and combining our resources, we can enact meaningful change to support Kentuckians in recovery who deserve a second chance.”
About RECON KY RECON KY, a consortium for recovery in Kentucky, brings together stakeholders from all parts of the treatment system. Our mission is to advocate for a comprehensive, long-term approach to recovery that addresses the social determinants of addiction, while strengthening treatment and mental health services to better serve all Kentuckians. For more information, please visit reconky.org.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – December 14, 2020 – Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, substance use in Kentucky has been on the rise, exacerbating an already serious addiction crisis that has taken thousands of lives and impacted many more. In response, Rep. Adam Bowling has pre-filed legislation to encourage a more comprehensive approach to substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery in all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.
Rep. Bowling’s legislation establishes a framework for communities to become “Recovery Ready,” bringing much needed consistency to local prevention, treatment and recovery efforts across the state, and already has the support of Kentucky’s leading recovery advocates.
“Regardless of where Kentuckians call home, they should be able to access the wide-ranging services and resources they need to help them lead healthy lives, free from dangerous substances,” said Rep. Bowling. “While we’d like to think all Kentuckians have equal opportunities to prevent, treat and recover from substance use disorders, the reality is that significant disparities exist from place to place. This legislation leverages the firsthand knowledge and expertise of those on the frontlines of the addiction crisis to bridge the gaps.”
The “Recovery Ready” legislation establishes a new advisory council within the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy that will include recovery leaders, government officials, law enforcement, private sector employers and other key stakeholders. As a first step, this group will work together to determine appropriate and meaningful “Recovery Ready” standards for the commonwealth’s communities.
These standards will capture the all-inclusive needs of individuals in and seeking recovery and address the social determinants that lead to addiction and make recovery more feasible, including health care and treatment, housing, employment and educational opportunities, childcare and transportation, counseling and peer support.
“Ultimately, we hope this initiative will encourage local communities to take inventory of the resources they currently offer, how easily they can be accessed and the areas in need of more support and attention,” said Rep. Bowling. “It’s our responsibility, as legislators, public officials and community leaders, to ensure these resources are available in each community and that residents know they exist and have the means to access them. That’s what it takes to make Kentucky ‘Recovery Ready.’”
The legislation will be officially introduced in the General Assembly and receive a bill number when lawmakers convene in January.
At a moment when many people are finding it difficult to see eye-to-eye with their fellow Kentuckians, there’s one thing we all can agree on: We must keep fighting to end addiction in the commonwealth.
This is a public health crisis that has only worsened due to the challenges of the last eight months, with substance use and overdose deaths trending in the wrong direction.
However, there is good news. Even amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Kentucky public officials remain committed to breaking the vicious cycle of addiction. In November, the state will submit a transformative proposal to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that, if approved, will expand access to substance use disorder treatment among some of our society’s most vulnerable and at-risk individuals: those in our criminal justice system.
Substance use disorders have made their way into every nook and cranny of our state, including our prisons and jails. The treatment providers, business leaders and recovery advocates who make up RECON KY, a consortium for long-term recovery in Kentucky, have seen this firsthand.
The reality is we cannot effectively address the addiction crisis without investing in treatment and recovery resources for individuals in prison, many of whom are there in the first place because their substance use disorders have gone untreated.
Research has also linked well-designed, carefully implemented, in-prison addiction treatment programs to numerous positive outcomes, including reductions in relapse, recidivism and inmate misconduct, while increasing levels of education and employment when participants return to the community. Every one of us is better off living in a Kentucky in which fewer people are engaged in dangerous, sometimes illegal behaviors and more community members are leading healthy, productive lives.
After all, this is not just a health care issue; it’s an economic one, as well. By investing in health care coverage and treatment for incarcerated individuals now, we can prevent increased costs and additional negative outcomes down the road.
Just think about a person who receives substance use disorder treatment while in prison and is then connected with recovery resources and services as she transitions back into society, versus someone who doesn’t because she lacks the proper health care coverage and leaves prison without a health plan and support system. A year out, the latter is much more likely to have relapsed or be back in jail, while the former might be starting a new job or enrolling in school.
Providing these services is good policy and the right thing to do for our fellow Kentuckians. Our public officials certainly kept these factors in mind when crafting this proposal, which doesn’t only account for the health care needs of individuals “behind the wall,” but ensures they are set up for success after they’ve completed their time. Both pieces are critically important and reflect the continuum of care needed for people to reach long-term recovery.
All Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorders, including those in the criminal justice system, need our support. These are our family members, neighbors, coworkers and friends. We applaud our public officials for not only recognizing this, but acting on it, as well.
When it comes to ending addiction in Kentucky, we certainly still have our work cut out for us — but with the submission of this new proposal, we’re one step closer to getting it done.
Tim Robinson is CEO of Addiction Recovery Care and a founding member of RECON KY. Ben Chandler is president/CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which serves as one of the founding organizations for RECON KY.
When grave new challenges emerge, it would be nice if existing ones would subside. Sadly, that is just not how the world works.
In communities across the Commonwealth and throughout the U.S., mental health and addiction treatment providers are facing a new set of challenges as they continue to care for some of our population’s most vulnerable amid a global pandemic.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 67,367 Americans died from drug overdoses in 2018 — more than 1,300 of whom were here in Kentucky. While public health officials and providers battle one crisis, we cannot afford to overlook another that has been impacting our communities for years — and one that will most certainly still be here even after the COVID-19 outbreak subsides.
RECON KY was formed as a consortium for recovery in Kentucky, bringing together stakeholders from all parts of the treatment system to advocate for a more comprehensive, long-term approach to recovery. And, in light of current events, a statewide coalition focused on strengthening and expanding addiction and mental health services has never been more needed and important. RECON KY is focused not only on bolstering and expanding access to treatment services but on addressing the underlying factors that can lead to substance use disorders.
Addiction is a complex and multifaceted disease, affecting people of all ages, genders, races and backgrounds. However, numerous studies have shown that social determinants — socioeconomic status, education level and where you live, among others — can indeed indicate whom in our communities is most at risk for developing substance use disorders and other mental health conditions.
Now, with our country weathering the COVID-19 outbreak, we anticipate an even greater influx of mental and behavioral health needs in the months ahead: exacerbated symptoms, increased substance use and relapses and higher rates of overdose.
Thankfully, Governor Beshear and the Cabinet for Health and Family Services are already doing just that and have acted swiftly in recent days and weeks to protect, and even expand, access to proven forms of treatment and counseling for substance use disorders and behavioral health.
As efforts to address the outbreak continue, lawmakers at all levels must remember the crucial role that mental health and addiction treatment providers play — and will continue to play, moving forward — and include them as essential pieces of the health care system when making emergency policy decisions.
The mental health system includes many moving, critically important pieces—residential treatment, detoxification, outpatient, medication assisted treatment, recovery housing, advocacy, prevention, workforce training—that must be maintained during this crisis.
Beyond quality health care, long-term recovery requires a great deal of resources and support: employment and educational opportunities, safe and affordable housing, transportation, childcare to encourage workforce participation.
Great strides have been made in recent years to build up Kentucky’s recovery infrastructure, and we cannot let that progress fall to the wayside at a time when many Americans are facing greater strains on their mental health.
Like all public health crises, addiction is not something that one group alone can or should solve. Now more than ever, we must all do our part to support our fellow Kentuckians who are struggling with and recovering from substance use disorders and other mental health conditions.
TIM ROBINSON is CEO of Addiction Recovery Care and a founding member of RECON KY, a consortium for recovery in Kentucky.