Kentucky is facing a severe shortage of professionals to treat substance abuse and the problem is likely to get worse without action from the state legislature.
That’s what Kentucky lawmakers were told by people who work in the field during a hearing in Frankfort last week.
Democratic State Representative Joni Jenkins is the sponsor of a bill to create an independent license for the treatment of individuals with alcohol or drug addictions.
The effort has the support of the Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs. Pat McKiernan is the department’s outreach coordinator.
“We have approximately 800 alcohol and drug counselors in the state, and with an estimated 280 thousand individuals that need drug and alcohol treatment that is not a sufficient number. And we believe that by adding this tier, by increasing the competency level of our profession, we will encourage more people to join and fight this terrible disease.” –Pat McKiernan
Officials with the State Health and Family Services Cabinet say there’s likely to be an increase in the number of Kentuckians who seek substance abuse treatment this year. That’s because those services are now covered by Medicaid.