The Healing Place

As Face of Addiction Changes, Solutions Needed

As Face of Addiction Changes, Solutions Needed

The heroin epidemic plaguing our city and our state continues to increase. It has been several years since the re-emergence of heroin in our area, yet 95% of clients arriving in our detox facilities are coming in for heroin. The new addict is 18 to 30 years old and comes from the suburban, more affluent ZIP codes. The face of addiction is absolutely changing and has a huge impact on our community.

The Healing Place is on the frontlines of heroin addiction, which has increased demand for our recovery services. This is a demand we are struggling to meet. We are currently turning away between 10 to 30 men from detox every day because we simply do not have enough space. This need has prompted a $24 million Capital Campaign to expand our Men’s Campus on West Market Street, which will double the number of beds in our detox as well as in our long-term recovery program.

This year, Kentucky lawmakers tackled the heroin problem with far-reaching legislation that included the state’s first ever needle exchange program in Louisville, increased access to naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose, and a Good Samaritan Law allowing someone to seek medical help for overdose victims without fear of facing charges themselves. We applaud the good work of our legislators.

In a Courier-Journal story published in August, prosecutors in Louisville reported a nearly 700 percent increase in heroin arrests within the past four years. That led Commonwealth’s Attorney Tom Wine’s office to launch the “rocket docket” for heroin arrests, which allows addicts to get into treatment more quickly and spend less time in the court system.

For every person who is struggling with addiction, there are eight others who are directly affected – family, friends, co-workers, and businesses. That does not even include the effect on the community. Louisville’s crime rate can be directly connected to heroin and local hospitals are seeing a larger number of patients, many of whom cannot afford treatment, which in turn increases the cost of healthcare. This is why The Healing Place believes it is time to gather the experts in our community, face the issue head-on, and talk about solutions.

We are hosting Heroin: About Face on Wednesday, October 28 at the Louisville Marriott East. While the media is covering the heroin issue extensively, this event will help drive the focus back to the basics of addiction.

At Heroin: About Face, we will be talking about the disease of addiction and how to recognize the early signs in adults and adolescents. Our speakers also will be discussing the impact of heroin addiction in our communities and identify community resources and programs that target heroin and addiction concerns.

Our special guest speaker is 2006 Miss USA and Miss Kentucky Tara Conner. The Russell Springs, Kentucky native made headlines with reports of underage drinking and drug use. Eight months after winning the crown, she tested positive for heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth. Pageant owner Donald Trump allowed Conner to keep her title provided she enter a drug rehabilitation program; she has since celebrated eight years of sobriety. Conner now travels the country sharing her experience, strength, and hope and raising awareness about the disease of addiction and that it is possible for addicts to lead healthy, productive lives in recovery.

We also have created a Community Impact Panel featuring Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, Metro Corrections Director Mark Bolton, and representatives from the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the Kentucky Department of Corrections, and Kentucky Drug Court. They will be answering questions and sharing their knowledge to help us better the lives of families as well as our community. If you have a question for a member of this panel, you may e-mail it to or ask on Twitter using the hashtag #THPHeroin.

Other speakers include Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell, who will discuss the impact addiction has on the family as well as the legal system; Dr. Greg Jones, Medical Director of the Kentucky Physicians Health Foundation will discuss the disease of addiction; and Geoff Wilson, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, will share first-hand accounts of how addiction is affecting our children.

Continuing education credits will be available for physicians, social workers, counselors, certified alcohol and drug counselors, and other professionals. Families impacted by addiction are also encouraged to attend. For more information about Heroin: About Face, click here.

​This post originally appeared in the October 12th edition of the Louisville Courier-Journal.