FRANKFORT – Director John Walters of the Office of National Drug Control Policy discussed the national epidemic of substance abuse and applauded Kentucky’s plan to comprehensively address the problem during the state Office of Drug Control Policy’s media day today in Lexington.
Walters said Kentucky is getting organized in a way it never has, using the "best and brightest in the state" and giving them leadership from the highest-level officials in Kentucky, who are linked to state and local resources and are working with the federal government to better approach the substance abuse issue.
"This state is moving in a direction that we wish more states would," he said to reporters and others at the Marriott Griffin Gate, where the media day was held.
Walters was the key speaker at the event. Aside from his and a couple of other speeches, it was informal. Others who were available to talk with the media were officials in drug prevention, treatment and enforcement. Media day was held to provide media a better understanding of the Statewide Drug Control Assessment Summit and the creation and function of the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy and to assure that Kentucky reporters are aware of the enormous task ahead in changing the way the state addresses its drug problem.
"It’s a very large problem, but it’s not one we are going to surrender to, and, as the director said, it’s one that we have to keep pressure on constantly," Lt. Governor Steve Pence told attendees. "We can beat it. The idea is we must continually fight it every day and get communities fighting it every day."
"We can do a better job," he said. "We know we can do a better job. It just takes a lot of work and a lot of coordination. We’re willing to do that."
Walters said a continual effort would make a difference.
"This is like a disease, and you have to be able to reduce the infection, and you need to be able to make the infection go away by a combined effort that both tracks where it is and uses the proven measures which we know from both research and common sense that make a difference," he said. "When you push back against this problem it gets smaller. That’s true in this state. It’s true nationally."
This was Walters’ second visit to Kentucky to discuss ideas and efforts in the commonwealth and nationally to better address and reduce substance abuse.
"We were so honored to have Director Walters and Lieutenant Governor Pence visit and speak to all of us about this issue that is doing so much damage in our communities and throughout the nation," said Sylvia Lovely, interim executive director of Kentucky’s Office of Drug Control Policy. "This event was a wonderful opportunity for the media covering Kentucky to learn more about the state’s drug problem and plan and how it fits in with what is being done nationally. It was also a great time for the media and our other guests to talk and network with people who are addressing the issue in the Kentucky through prevention, treatment and enforcement. It was a success."