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Lexington grant to help substance abusers return to productivity

Barr, Gorton announce $616,704 federal grant for Lexington BFREE Initiative
Lexington had 209 overdose deaths in 2021.

LEXINGTON, Ky. — U.S. Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) and Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton announced a $616,704 federal grant to enhance the substance abuse disorder Barrier Free Re-Entry and Recovery (BFREE) Initiative in Lexington.

The BFREE Initiative is part of a comprehensive approach the city is offering to Kentuckians in recovery for substance abuse who are also transitioning from the criminal justice system after a period of incarceration.

While the City of Lexington made tremendous progress reducing overdoses in 2018 and 2019, the pandemic led to overdoses rising in the city again. In 2020, the city had over 200 overdoses for the first time (209 total). Nationally, overdoses topped 100,000 for the first-time last year and overdoses in the commonwealth overall increased by 15% in 2021.

The grant will provide money to purchase two vans for the Community Paramedicine Program (CPP) to transport BFREE Initiative participants to and from appointments with treatment providers. The BFREE Initiative offers participants assistance accessing housing services and help finding meaningful employment opportunities that will provide dignity and purpose. Barr secured the federal grant funds during the last congressional appropriations process.

“By ensuring a smooth and successful transition for Kentuckians enrolled in the BFREE Initiative back into our community, we can reduce the risk of recidivism and put these Kentuckians on a path for long-term recovery,” Barr said. “Addiction is a crisis in our commonwealth and throughout the country. I will continue working with local, state, and federal officials to deliver resources to law enforcement, rehabilitation providers and community prevention programs to save lives.”

“Substance use disorder affects people from all corners of our city,” Mayor Gorton said. “Thank you to Congressman Barr for helping us with an innovative, comprehensive approach we hope will help those who are re-entering the community after a period of incarceration. Working with partners throughout our community, we are reaching out to people in a variety of ways to stop the overdoses.”

“This grant is important because it provides support for a person to reconnect with community after a period of incarceration,” said Amy Baker, coordinator of the city’s substance use disorder program.  “By providing access to treatment and recovery supportive housing and connecting them with employers who are willing to provide a second chance, the chances of reoffending are greatly reduced.  Access to treatment, housing and employment reduces the risk of recidivism and provides opportunities to individuals to rebuild their lives.”

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