Substance abuse

$10.5 million award to go toward substance abuse treatment

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission awarded $10.5 million to a Behavioral Health Conditional Dismissal Pilot Program, which will help provide treatment options as an alternative to incarceration for those struggling with substance abuse.

What You Need To Know

  • The funding comes after the passage of Senate Bill 90, which gives the opportunity of substance abuse treatment instead of incarceration to those who have certain non-violent drug offenses
  • The OAAC is responsible for distributing funds that Kentucky was awarded from settlements with opioid companies
  • Organizations can apply for grants by visiting

The funding comes from Senate Bill 90, which passed the legislature last year. It allows those who have been charged with certain non-violent drug crimes to go through personalized treatment instead of incarceration if they are trying to recover from substance abuse.

“This award of opioid settlement dollars is the first step toward bringing hope and help to Kentuckians struggling with substance use disorder,” Cameron said in a news release.

The commission oversees the state’s portion of funds stemming from nationwide settlements with several companies for their roles in the opioid addiction crisis. Kentucky will receive hundreds of millions of dollars.

Fatal drug overdoses rose nearly 15% in Kentucky in 2021 while surpassing 2,000 deaths, the state reported last year. The increased use of fentanyl — a powerful synthetic opioid — was a key contributor in the record death toll in the state, officials said.

It’s the OAAC’s first funding award. The General Assembly established the commission and administers Kentucky’s portion of settlement funds received from opioid companies. The funds are more than $842 million, and organizations can apply for grants by visiting the attorney general’s website.

The commission’s initial funding award follows action by Kentucky lawmakers last year to create the behavioral health pilot program. The measure allows people suffering from substance abuse disorder, and who are charged with certain nonviolent drug offenses, to take part in a personalized treatment and recovery plan instead of facing incarceration. Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers on Tuesday called it a way to help Kentuckians “break the cycle of addiction.”

Cameron said the pilot program will “begin to treat this challenge as the health problem it is.”

The commission tasked with administering the state’s share of opioid settlement funds has held a series of town hall meetings across the Bluegrass State to hear from people harmed by the opioid epidemic. Cameron announced the commission’s membership last year.

“We are pleased to make this first award and look forward to making many more in the days ahead,” said Bryan Hubbard, the commission’s executive director.

The state’s drug addiction problems have emerged as an issue in this year’s campaign for governor in Kentucky. Republican Kelly Craft, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, has made fighting illegal drugs a leading issue in her campaign, running TV ads highlighting the problem.

Cameron and Craft are among a dozen candidates competing for the GOP nomination for governor. Other Republican candidates include state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, state Auditor Mike Harmon and Somerset Mayor Alan Keck. Beshear is seeking a second term as governor.

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