OPINION: GUEST COLUMN: A comprehensive response to the opioid crisis

Apr. 25—Kentucky, like many other states, grapples daily with the devastating consequences of the opioid crisis. From overcrowded jails to the emotional scars left on children, the toll is evident.

There are many factors behind the scourge of opioid addiction. But one of the most shocking is the corporate greed that puts profits over people. High-priced executives have cashed in on Kentucky's addiction crisis, all while escaping responsibility for their actions.

Last year, the multi-billion-dollar consulting firm McKinsey and Company settled a $230 million lawsuit with school districts, local governments and other groups across the country. Soon, these dollars will be flowing into our communities to make up for the pain this crisis has caused. However, this is merely a drop in the bucket and the work is not over.

I am thankful for Kentucky's federal delegation in their continued commitment to fighting this epidemic in our state. Congressman Hal Rogers, founder of Operation UNITE in Eastern Kentucky, is a longtime champion in combatting the opioid epidemic at the local, state and federal levels and we are grateful for his leadership.

UNITE's three-pronged model brings together leaders and resources from law enforcement, treatment, and education, to help save lives and slow the flow of illegal drugs into our communities.

By bringing together diverse stakeholders, including law enforcement, healthcare providers, educators, and community leaders, UNITE has made significant strides in raising awareness, providing treatment options, and disrupting drug trafficking networks.

UNITE has helped reduce the toll of addiction in southeastern Kentucky. A recent study by the University of Kentucky shows that 14 eastern Kentucky counties were among the top 20 counties in the nation for the greatest reduction in drug overdose mortality.

While Operation UNITE's efforts are significant, the fight against substance abuse is far from over. We will continue to work with our leaders and push against those who wish to take advantage of Kentucky families, children, and communities.