In one of its final legislative steps, a policy to ensure Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorder are supported in their communities passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday.
House Bill 7, filed by Rep. Adam Bowling (R-Middlesboro), establishes a framework for communities to become “Recovery Ready,” bringing much needed consistency to local substance use prevention, treatment and recovery efforts.
Bowling said Kentucky is currently losing the battle against substance use disorder as overdose deaths are up over 20 percent and substance use is tearing Kentucky families apart and costing the state in many ways.
The bill, Bowling said, establishes an advisory council housed under the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy with 19 members from different areas including business, recovery, education, local government, health care and others that will determine appropriate and meaningful “Recovery Ready” standards for the commonwealth’s communities.
Kentucky Chamber Public Affairs Manager John Cox testified in favor of the legislation stating the Chamber has sharpened its focus on these issues in recent years to help those in recovery get the treatment they need, so they can gain meaningful employment. He added the business community feels House Bill 7 recognizes the importance of local leadership in this fight and focuses on individuals having a job, housing, transportation, and access to other resources important to staying in recovery.
“We are committed to helping employers help those who are in recovery. We know this challenge is a team effort, and that this pandemic is making the problem even worse. Now is the time to be bold and help Kentuckians who are struggling,” Cox said.
Ashley McCarty, business liaison with the Chamber’s Workforce Recovery Program for Businesses, also spoke to legislators about her own personal struggles with substance use disorder and how she is now using her experience to help Kentucky companies fix their outdated HR policies to allow for a fair chance and notice early warning signs.
McCarty, who is seven years in active recovery from opioid addiction, explained she was among the top five pharmaceutical sales reps in the country when she had a few surgeries where she was prescribed opioids for pain. It was at that point that everything began to fall apart, as she developed a dependency on those medication, her performance plummeted and she even attempted suicide.
This legislation, she said, helps those who are struggling who do not seek the help they need because they often don’t know how.
House Bill 7 now moves to the full Senate for a vote on the floor.