Police chiefs from all over Kentucky are in town for a convention. One topic they will discuss is the recent rise of heroin use, and heroin related overdose deaths.
In just the last few months, the head of a drug task force says heroin arrived in southern and eastern Kentucky.
"A lot of the narcotics officers in eastern Kentucky had never seen heroin, knew very little about it," said Dan Smoot, President and CEO of Operation Unite.
Smoot calls heroin a natural replacement for prescription pain pills, but Smoot says heroin is easier to police.
"We know where it's coming from. It's illegal on its face. Unlike prescription medication they can claim they've been to the doctor, and have legitimate pain, and there's not a lot you can do with it," said Smoot.
From a treatment perspective the clinical director at the Chrysalis House, a substance abuse treatment program for women, says heroin poses a much bigger challenge than prescription drug abuse.
"Relapse rates can be as high as 90%," said Dr. Carmella Yates, Chrysalis House Clinical Director.
Three years ago Yates says Chrysalis house saw almost no heroin users. Now, heroin users are on a wait list. Yates says the drug is so available, it's scary.
Yates says about 25% of their clients list heroin as their primary drug.
Yates says she's also seeing younger addicts, women in their late teens. Yates decided they needed a child therapist.
"They were so immature emotionally, developmentally," said Yates.
As heroin leeches its way across Kentucky, Yates says it will take a community effort to get rid of the highly addictive drug.