Northern Kentucky fights heroin with smarts and sympathy for people who live with addiction

Posted at 1:09 AM, Dec 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-13 01:09:34-05

WARSAW, Ky. -- Victories in the war against heroin come painfully and by inches, but they are coming, according to members of the Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response Task Force. 

Since the task force’s establishment in 2014, Kentucky State Representative Kim Moser said Monday night, more than 700 law enforcement officials have learned how to save overdose victims with a dose of narcan, and counties in Northern Kentucky have taken steps to ensure that people dealing with addiction in prison receive counseling and treatment. 

And people like Jamie Johnson, who runs the anti-addiction nonprofit Stand With Us, have stepped in to ensure that children of parents who use heroin have safer places to be. 

Johnson recently gained permanent custody of Alexis, a six-year-old “firecracker” who was placed in his care when she was three years old. Her parents, both of whom dealt with addiction, were in prison and could no longer care for their seven children. 

"My wife and I came into contact with the family and heard about the story. They were looking for a solution: a family that would love her," he said. "It’s been a dream ever since. She has done so well in school and everything."

Since Alexis came into his life, Johnson said, he’s gained a new perspective on the heroin epidemic and a new resolve to fight it however he can. Stand With Us offers support to people in Gallatin County who have dealt with addiction by connecting them with rehabilitation centers as well as providing emotional support and friendship.

"So many folks don’t understand the problem," Johnson said. "They don’t believe the problem is as difficult and as big and as widespread as it is."