Prescription drug abuse is killing Kentuckians at record levels, with deaths more than doubling in the past decade to nearly 1,000 a year, surpassing even traffic fatalities, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. But even as the state’s prescription-drug problem increases, the money to fight the problem is drying up, with budgets for key agencies and programs that work to prevent, control and treat drug abuse being cut by millions of dollars.
The Office of Drug Control Policy, a state agency that coordinates much of Kentucky’s fight against drugs, saw its state funding drop from $8.6 million in 2008 to $6.5 million in 2010, forcing its staff to shrink from 10 to four employees. Kentucky’s family and juvenile drug courts — created to help new addicts stay out of prison and mend their families — were eliminated as of Jan. 1 to save the state budget $1.5 million a year. Operation UNITE, a nonprofit agency that U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers formed to fight chronic drug abuse plaguing his 29-county 5th District in Eastern Kentucky, saw its budget slashed from $10.3 million in 2007-08 to $4.6 million the following year.