FRANKFORT — A website that launched Monday will begin helping those seeking options for substance abuse treatment and recovery obtain that information more easily.
Last year, the state launched the "Don't Let Them Die" initiative, which focuses on the dangers of opioid abuse and finding treatment. As a part of that campaign, Gov. Matt Bevin and other agencies announced the launch of the website "Find Help Now KY" (findhelpnowky.org) on Friday.
The website was created by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC) at the University of Kentucky College of Public Health. The project was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.
"Findhelpnowky.org is the innovative, new website helping people across our state find up-to-date information on the current availability of accessible addiction treatment services, both online and in real time," said said Dr. Terry Bunn, director of KIPRC, during a press conference on Friday.
"Find Help Now KY" acts as a real-time locator for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) treatment availability and information center across the state.
Users can locate these facilities based on location, facility type and the type of treatment needed. It also takes into consideration the substance(s) being abused, payment options, gender identity and other criteria.
The website provides treatment providers and treatment openings throughout the Commonwealth, including community mental health centers; private, non-profit and faith-based treatment providers; and providers of medication assisted treatment.
"Near real-time availability of SUD treatment openings will significantly reduce the time spent by the public, healthcare providers and other healthcare professionals searching for treatment openings by matching available treatment with individual needs," said Bunn.
John Tilley, Secretary of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, said the treatment locator website has been "two years in the making" and wouldn't have been possible without the collaboration of the providers in the state.
"This treatment locator will be a critical tool in our comprehensive strategy to ensure that those suffering from substance use disorder and their loved ones have somewhere to turn in their time of need," said Dr. Jeffrey Howard, acting commissioner for the Kentucky Department of Public Health.
The launch of the website comes after the launch of the statewide hotline number (833-8KY-HELP) that first appeared on the dontletthemdie.org website last year.
Bunn said the hotline is Operation UNITE's toll-free, statewide hotline number, which connects the caller to a live person who can provide information on the resources and treatment facilities available at that moment.
As part of the launch of the new website, Andrea Stahlman, news director of WLKY-TV, also announced the sponsorship of WLKY to the "Find Help Now KY"/"Don't Let Them Die" integrated marketing and advertising campaign for high school students across the Commonwealth.
All Kentucky high school students from public, private and home schools will be eligible to compete in the contest, which is meant to raise awareness about the dangers of drug use and abuse by encouraging students to create original campaign advertisements for both the "Find Help Now KY" and "Don't Let Them Die" websites.
Stahlman said there will be a cash reward for winning teams, which must have three to five students and an adult advisor.
In addition, the top five schools will receive $5,000 each.
"Information is critical in the fight against opioids and the high school challenge will allow students across Kentucky to become actively engaged in raising awareness about the dangers of opioid addiction," said Stahlman.
Stahlman said those that wish to compete must submit an "Intent to Compete" form by Feb. 15, which can be found at dontletthemdie.org. Guidelines for the contest can also be found on the website.
"The problem is getting bigger and not smaller in Kentucky and in America," said Bevin. "I want Kentucky to be a leader, not just in having the problem but in addressing the problem."
Bevin said the more these resources are made available, the "better off Kentucky will be."