Governor pays personal tribute to Overdose Day

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – A global event turned personal Monday for Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear.

Aug. 31 is International Overdose Awareness Daydesigned to bring awareness to the overdose epidemic, reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths and acknowledge the grief of family and friends left behind.

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“Awareness is the key to survival during most medical emergencies; and that’s certainly true in the case of a drug overdose,” the Governor said.

“If you find a loved one has overdosed, or even a complete stranger, knowing how to react could mean the difference between life and death.”

Those needing access to naloxone or more resources on how to respond to an overdose can find more information on the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policys webpage.

The Governor also spoke about one overdose victim and his family’s struggle in the aftermath of his untimely death.

“As Attorney General I filed more lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers than anyone else in the country. My friend Emily, who leads Fed Up in Kentucky, lost her son TJ right before he was going to deploy with our National Guard,” the Governor said. “There’s so much pain out there, and somebody may make a bad decision at the start, but by the time an overdose happens typically someone has been suffering from an addiction that we cannot treat as a bad decision.

“We have to treat it as the disease that it is, knowing that it is preventable, knowing that all of us can step in to either try to help an individual suffering from it, or hopefully be there with the training necessary to protect them in that worst case scenario.”

Beshear said he promised Emily he would continue to seek to provide resources to help people overcome addictions while also holding unscrupulous drug companies responsible.

He also noted that public health officials say that since the start of the pandemic in the U.S., they are seeing the largest number of overdose deaths since 2017.

Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorders, either themselves or within their families, can call 833-8KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak with a specialist about treatment options and available resources.

A live specialist will help locate everything from medication-assisted treatment to faith-based care, and walk through all the variables, such as location and cost. Callers can speak to a specialist from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (EDT), Monday through Friday.

During non-business hours, callers may leave a message and the call center staff will get back in touch with them.

Beshear said the Governor’s Mansion will be lit up with purple lights this evening to honor the lives lost to overdose deaths.

On other issues, Beshear:

— Reminded voters they now can go to www.GoVoteKy.com to request an absentee ballot for the Nov. 3 general election, if they are concerned about COVID-19 and voting.

— Reminded Kentuckians the state issued a travel advisory in July that recommends people avoid visiting states with coronavirus case positivity rates of 15% or higher. Among the states currently exceeding that threshold, according to data from Johns Hopkins, are South Carolina, North Dakota, Iowa, Alabama and Nevada. Anyone returning to Kentucky after visiting these places is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days.

— Jim Gray, secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), announced funding for access roads to spur development at industrial parks in Warren, Barren and Fulton counties.

The projects are:

  • In Warren County, KYTC is committing $500,000 from its Industrial Access Road program for a project by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce to extend Prosperity Drive in the Kentucky Transpark. The extended roadway will serve a new manufacturing plant being built by Crown Cork & Seal USA and open 296 additional, rail-served acres for development within the Transpark. Gov. Beshear helped to break ground for the Crown plant in February. The plant will make aluminum beverage cans.
  • In Barren County, KYTC is committing $500,000 from the Industrial Access Road program to assist the Barren County Economic Authority in developing South Cooper Industrial Park along U.S. 68 in Glasgow.
  • In Fulton County, KYTC has agreed to provide up to $146,500 to Fulton County Fiscal Court toward design and construction of a boulevard entrance to a new industrial park that is a joint venture of Fulton and Hickman counties. The site, which is in the City of Fulton, is contiguous to rail lines and less than a mile from the Interstate 69 corridor. It will be able to accommodate as many as seven small manufacturers or distribution companies, potentially providing hundreds of jobs.