Volunteers of America’s addiction recovery services aim to battle rise in overdose deaths

During March, Louisville saw a concerning spike in overdoses due to a suspected supply of heroin that was cut with Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid. According to Louisville Metro Police Chief Steve Conrad, 34 deaths were reported from January 1 to March 9, compared to 13 during the same period in 2015.

Dr. Sarah Moyer, interim director of Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness, said this increase is not unique to Louisville, as overdose deaths are on the rise in cities across the country.

These numbers reflect the urgent need to address the heroin epidemic in Louisville and beyond. Through Volunteers of America's Addiction Recovery Services, we are serving people who desperately need our help battling addiction and often times have nowhere else to turn, like the women we serve at Freedom House, our program for pregnant and parenting women. To date, 116 babies, like Azaryah (pictured with her mother, Crystal, above), have been born healthy and drug free because of the services we provided their mothers at Freedom House. In 2015, we served 338 people, including 174 veterans, through our addiction recovery services.

Additionally, through our partnership with Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness on the Syringe Exchange Program we are providing comprehensive services to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C. The program has served more than 2,600 people since opening in June, with the ratio of new needles provided to used needles returned decreasing from 8 to 1 to 1.7 to 1.

A second Syringe Exchange location opened in October at Lake Dreamland Fire Department on Cane Run Road to provide safe needle exchange for those who have difficulty traveling to the permanent exchange site in downtown Louisville. Most recently, a third location opened on Bicknell Street in South Louisville. Volunteers of America continues to work with Metro Council and interested citizens to identify additional locations to implement the program, with the ultimate goal of having an exchange location in a different area of the city open every day of the week.

Volunteers of America is committed to working with government officials, other community organizations and nonprofits and donors to continue to grow our addiction recovery programs so that no person who needs our help has to wait to receive our life-saving services.