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New Helpline in Northern Kentucky to Aid in Heroin Fight

There is a number to call in Northern Kentucky to aid in the ongoing fight against heroin addiction in the region.

The three Northern Kentucky counties - Boone, Kenton, and Campbell - have teamed with St. Elizabeth Healthcare and the Northern Kentucky Area Development District to launch a regional heroin helpline. 

The number: 859-577-CARE (2273).

The program is modeled after a similar operation in southwest Ohio which, according to a news release, handles approximately 20,000 calls annually. The calls range from questions about drugs to requests for addiction help. The helpline will then match callers with the most appropriate service for help. 

Sometimes, the calls answered by Addiction Services Council (ASC) involve crisis situations, so the number is staffed by licensed, professional counselors, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ASC will duplicate its program in Northern Kentucky, a news release stated.

"We're very excited to be launching the helpline in Northern Kentucky," said Nan Franks, CEO of ASC. "Without question, the need for this service is great, especially considering the nature of the heroin epidemic in Northern Kentucky."

The three county judges/executive also welcomed the helpline. The three fiscal courts approved nearly $30,000 each in funding for the helpline while St. E provided more than $80,000.

"Responding to Northern Kentucky's heroin epidemic continues to demand our taking on a multi-faceted approach," said Campbell Co. Judge/Executive Steve Pendery. "The Northern Kentucky Helpline will provide a direct and powerful resource to folks in need, as well as families who are looking for help."

Boone Co. Judge/Executive Gary Moore called the helpline a "critical component" of the region's fight against heroin. "Our provider, Addiction Services Council, has a proven track record and will bring a wealth of expertise to those in need," Moore said. "This is another example of Northern Kentucky creating positive, meaningful partnerships to assist our region."

Kenton Co. Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann pointed to the new treatment program facilitated at the Kenton Co. Detention Center - one that has received national attention from newspaper and broadcast outlets - as evidence that the region is fighting heroin intensely. The helpline represents another significant moment in the fight, he said. "Simplifying access to help and streamlining the pathway to treatment will save lives," Knochelmann said. 

Kim Moser, the director of the Northern Kentucky Office for Drug Control Policy, and a Republican candidate for state representative in Kenton Co., said that the helpline represents a "no wrong door" approach to fighting heroin addiction. "Such a service will provide triage, assessment, and referral to treatment when necessary," she said.

St. Elizabeth, meanwhile, has joined law enforcement and local governments on the front lines of fighting the region's heroin crisis. The hospital will host the mobile needle exchange in Covington once Campbell or Boone County and a city within them join Kenton County and Covington in allowing it.

"Substance use disorders continue to make newspaper and television headlines throughout our community and as health care professionals our staff encounters patients every day who are suffering from these disorders," said Garren Colvin, St. E's CEO. "The launch of this hotline will help provide Northern Kentucky families with one more tool to access when battling the disease of addiction."

-Staff report

Photo via RCN file