PRESTONSBURG (10-15-12) – A bi-partisan panel of state and federal policy makers will discuss current initiatives to make a positive impact on curbing the drug abuse epidemic at Jenny Wiley State Resort Park on Monday, October 29.

A limited number of seats are still available for the Bluegrass Policy Forum on Substance Abuse, presented by the Operation UNITE Foundation and the Recovery Kentucky program.

Panel members for the Forum include Fifth District Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, chair of the U.S. House Committee on Appropriations and founder of UNITE; Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear; Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo (D-95th District); Kentucky House Majority Floor Leader Rocky Adkins (D-99th District); Kentucky Senate Majority Floor Leader Robert Stivers II (R-25th District); and Kentucky Senator Brandon Smith (R-30th District), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The forum, which includes a question-and-answer session, will be moderated by Renee Shaw of Kentucky Educational Television (KET). Shaw is host and co-producer of “Connections with Renee Shaw,” a weekly interview and discussion series, co-host of KET’s election night coverage, and a substitute host on “Kentucky Tonight.”

Seats for this special forum are still available for $200, and must be made in advance by calling 1-866-678-6483. The program, which begins at 6 p.m., includes dinner.

All proceeds from the Bluegrass Policy Forum on Substance Abuse will benefit treatment/recovery and educational initiatives of UNITE and Recovery Kentucky, a program operated by the Kentucky Housing Authority.

UNITE Director Karen Kelly and Kentucky Housing Corporation Executive Director Mike Townsend will participate in the program.

“Too often we think of substance abuse from an impersonal perspective when, in reality, we should be focusing on the individuals and families overwhelmed with the consequences of a loved one’s addiction,” said Karen Kelly, director of UNITE.

“Our state lost 82 lives a month to drugs last year – more deaths than from motor vehicle crashes,” Kelly lamented. “It is especially sobering to look into the faces of innocent children who are abused, abandoned or forgotten because of their care-giver’s addiction and wonder, ‘What can I do to make things better?’”

UNITE was created in 2003 to provide a holistic, community-based approach to addressing problems with prescription drug abuse. Approximately 1,200 calls a month are made to UNITE’s Treatment Referral Line (1-866-908-6483), and nearly 3,000 low-income individuals have received vouchers for residential treatment for an addiction.

Recovery Kentucky is a program that helps Kentuckians recover from chronic substance abuse and addiction, and move toward a life of sobriety and productivity. It supplies supportive housing to those suffering with addiction through 10 centers across the commonwealth.