'Dreamland' Author Sam Quinones Addresses Opioid Crisis at Health Policy Forum

Sep 26, 2017

Left to Right-Sam Quinones-Journalist, Ben Chander-CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Credit Stu Johnson

Participants at Monday’s Health Policy Forum in Lexington heard a message about combating opioid addiction from journalist Sam Quinones. 

The Los Angeles Times reporter, spent ten years doing freelance work in Mexico.

During his keynote address for Kentucky’s Substance Use Crisis Forum, Quinones focused on the issue of isolation.

“It seems to me though that a drug that thrives on isolation, that creates more isolation is best attacked through community,” said Quinones.

Ben Chandler, president of the organization that sponsored the event, The Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, said selfishness is a problem in society.  

He says getting to know each other and caring for each other is healthy.  

Also, on the agenda was psychology professor Harvey Milkman who spoke on how natural highs through arts, music, and dance helped reverse a drug culture among youth in Iceland.

Kentucky’s drug czar is not concerned that government attention to big issues like state pensions and tax reform will result in less attention to the state’s epidemic of opioid abuse.  

Office of Drug Control Policy Director Van Ingram also participated in the Health Policy Forum.  

Ingram says his office is preparing to distribute about $3 million dollars to local alcohol substance abuse agencies. 

“I think in Kentucky we get it.  I’m more concerned with what happens in Washington.  We have a lot of big issues and pensions is one of them, but I think this opioid issue our elected officials understand lives are lost every day,” explained Ingram.

Foundation Director Ben Chandler says his organization will be pushing hard for an increase in the cigarette tax during the 2018 session of the General Assembly.  Chandler says the increase would generate $260 million annually, which could help support efforts to reduce substance abuse and other pressing issues.