DEA Announces “360 Degree Strategy” to Address Opiate Epidemic in Louisville
-Program serves as a model for communities struggling to break cycle of drug trafficking, drug abuse and associated violence
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) today announced Louisville’s selection as the fourth city in America to take part in a comprehensive law enforcement and prevention “360 Degree Strategy” to assist cities dealing with the heroin and prescription drug abuse epidemic. Timothy J. Plancon, Special Agent in Charge of the DEA’s Detroit Field Division, and John E. Kuhn, Jr., United States Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, announced this strategy today. Joining DEA and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the announcement were Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, Louisville Chief of Police Steve Conrad, and Dr. Toni Ganzel, Dean of the UofL School of Medicine, and representatives from the law enforcement, medical, and substance abuse prevention and treatment communities.
DEA’s Plancon said, “We are striving to find innovative strategies to confront the epidemic of heroin and prescription drug addiction in our society. DEA is collaborating with professionals from law enforcement, drug prevention, drug treatment, and the medical community, to attack this problem from a holistic approach.
“The heroin epidemic, ravaging communities across America, brings with it violence, addiction and death,” stated U.S. Attorney Kuhn. “We must do more, and today we announce new initiatives to improve our community education efforts and to get heroin dealers off our streets.”
The DEA 360 Degree Strategy comprises a three-fold approach to fighting drug traffickers and the current opiate abuse epidemic:
- Enforcement – Actions that target drug trafficking organizations supplying opioids to the neighborhoods of Louisville. These efforts will include a strategy to specifically address those traffickers that supply opioids resulting in fatal and non-fatal overdoses.
- Diversion Control – By engaging drug manufacturers, wholesalers, practitioners and pharmacists to increase awareness of the heroin and prescription drug problem and push for responsible prescribing and use of these medications throughout the medical community.
- Community Outreach – By partnering with medical professionals, governmental and community service organizations to proactively educate the public of the dangers of prescription drug and heroin abuse, and to guide individuals to treatment services when needed.
In November 2015, the 360 program was launched in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, followed by St. Louis, Missouri, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, earlier this year. Louisville represents the fourth city nationally to launch this initiative.
“The community outreach portion of this initiative is critical to long term success in reducing drug use and addiction,” Plancon said. “We have to continuing working to find ways to effectively communicate to our community members the risks and dangers of substance abuse to curb the rates of addiction, overdose and death.”
“UofL is instructing its students in treating patients with realistic goals in mind. We are incorporating guidelines from the CDC on opioid prescription into the curriculum and instructing students in principles that will help them as physicians to limit opioid prescribing, limit opioid overuse and lessen the risk of harm from opioid treatment. These steps will help physicians in dealing with both the epidemic of chronic pain and the epidemic of opioid addiction, abuse and death,” stated Dr. Toni Ganzel, Dean of the UofL School of Medicine.
By bringing together experts in substance abuse and prevention, the DEA 360 Strategy aims, in part, to address the opioid and heroin threat posed to the community by focusing on providing resources and programs designed to educate youth and those most influential to youth including; parents, caregivers, and educators to the harms of drug abuse.
Officials will work to form a “Community Alliance” that will comprise key leaders from law enforcement, prevention, treatment, the judicial system, education, business, government, civic organizations, faith communities, media, and social services, to form the foundation of a long-term group that will help carry the prevention and treatment messages throughout metropolitan Louisville.
In December, DEA, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky and its partners plan to host a summit to bring community leaders together to look for sustainable, impactful efforts to address drug abuse, addiction, trafficking and the violence that accompanies it.
Plancon stated, “DEA’s 360 Strategy recognizes that we need to utilize every resource possible to reach everyone in our community, and attack the prescription drug and heroin epidemic from all directions.”