U.S. Attorney General speaks to students in Madison County

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ)- Students in Madison County got a unique experience Tuesday morning and a reality check about the country’s current heroin epidemic.

U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch joined students in a full auditorium at Madison Central High School, Tuesday in a town hall format enabling them to ask the country’s top law enforcement official, questions.

“Do you believe that recreational marijuana use in high school students will lead to a greater risk of opioid abuse,” asked a student. Lynch responded by saying, “We usually, as we mentioned, are talking about individuals who start out with a prescription drug problem and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin.”

Lynch touched on Kentucky’s high number of overdose deaths in 2015: around 1,200. She also let the mother of a fatal overdose victim speak before a recovering addict detailed his journey from college baseball, to “shooting up” under a bridge.

“You see? That’s the nature of addiction. It’s all fun in the beginning. You don’t know what you’re in for,” added Alex Elswick.

In Madison County, emergency responders saw a drastic increase in the number of overdoses between 2014 and 2015 with 635 cans of Narcan being used to reverse them. Madison County EMS director Carlos Coyle says 27 people died from overdose in 2015.

That number has increased in 2016 and there are still months before the new year. Coyle tells ABC 36 that 30 people have died so far with 213 overdoses. In a single day in August, Coyle says emergency responders used 14 cans of Narcan.

“We talk about treatment. We’re talking about improving and increasing the availability of treatment facilities and also within the local hospital areas as well,” says Lynch when prompted about government funding to fight the spread of opioid and heroin addiction and overdose.

Lynch ended the assembly in Madison County by asking students to raise their hands if they knew someone who’d overdosed before. Those hands dropped quickly when Lynch asked, of those, how many survived.

“Fewer hands, fewer hands, ” she pointed out.

There are some upcoming events in Madison County directly related to fighting heroin addiction and overdose.

The “Hope Not Heroin” Rally/Walk allows families and other community members to learn about resources to assist with drug/alcohol addiction. It’s also an opportunity for those who’ve lost loved ones to addiction to celebrate their lives. It’s being held Saturday at 4 p.m. in downtown Richmond.

Thursday, October 13 there’s another event from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the EKU Conferencing & Events Center called “Drugs: Hiding in Plain Sight in Madison County”. The event description says that is open to adults only.


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