By Associated Press - Saturday, February 15, 2014

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Officials in eastern Kentucky are moving forward with a project to expand drug rehabilitation at the Pike County jail.

Officials told the Appalachian News-Express ( that the initiative to turn part of the former Pike County Hall of Justice into a rehabilitation area would more than double the room for participants.

Magistrates approved an agreement this month that allows work on the $2.4 million project to proceed.

Pike County Jailer Rodney Scott said the change will allow 120 men to be served at a time instead of 68 and will allow the program for women to expand.

He said the rehab program has already made a significant difference.

“It’s touched so many people, saved so many lives,” he said. “Over the last five years, we’ve averaged 105 graduates … per year. That’s over 500 people in the last five years that have gotten treatment they may not have otherwise gotten. Seventy some percent of those people have not been back in jail. Seventy some percent of those people have had a working job.”

Pike County Judge-Executive Wayne T. Rutherford said the project’s main funding comes from a settlement between the county and Purdue Pharma, the maker of painkiller OxyContin.

The company agreed last year to pay $4 million to settle a lawsuit over abuse of the narcotic.

The drug became so pervasive in eastern Kentucky that it was dubbed “Heroin of the Hills.”

“We’re the only county in the United States that got a judgment against this company that put that scourge all over this country, especially in this area of Central Appalachia, where you had the pain from coal mining and where you had the pain from drilling,” Rutherford said. “They sold our medical community on the greatest drug for pain in history and got good people, young and old, hooked on it.

“What an opportunity it is, taking their own money and building a rehab facility,” he said.


Information from: Appalachian News-Express,

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