LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — Kentucky is in a constant fight to stop the opioid epidemic. A Tuesday town hall meeting in Lexington addressed how it’s impacting the Black community.

Urban county council members, in partnership with the Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission, heard from people who have felt those impacts firsthand.

The data revealed Tuesday night showed that the Black community was disproportionately impacted by the crisis. Black men have been hit the hardest, and many of them took to the podium when talking to the council for the attorney general. One man even called them out for the lack of diversity on the panel at the town hall meeting.

“I was an opioid user. I was a drug user, and I slept in abandoned hallways four years ago, so I am not here on my own, and I do not believe this is a coincidence. I am not a major, and my bachelor’s is in social work,” community member Jermain Owens said.

The majority of speakers were Black men who took to the podium one by one to share their stories about the impact the opioid crisis has had on their lives

“He said, ‘Dad, I am addicted to opioids,’ and I said, ‘What is that?’ and I said, ‘What can I do?’ and I said, ‘What do I need to do for you?’ and he said, ‘Oh, I am alright.’ I saw that pain and the hurt that he had when he had to tell me that,” community member Larry Blackford said.

“I am very proud. I think we all have our own stories on why this is important to us, and none of us are immune to addiction and what it can do to a family. It has been in my family as well and impacted it for years,” said Von Purdy with the  Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission.

The packed crowd came out to learn more about the CDC data that shows more African Americans have become addicted to prescription pills after being misdiagnosed.

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“2021 was the first year when the drug overdose rate was higher among Black Kentuckians than among white Kentuckians at a rate of 58.5 versus 53.5,” said Bryan Hubbard with the  Kentucky Opioid Abatement Advisory Commission.

The commission has been tasked with ensuring millions of funds from the opioid settlement will help those directly affected. This was an opportunity for them to address the specific needs within the community and get feedback.

“Please do not take this the wrong way, but when I look at the commission, I only see people who are Caucasian. I do not see anyone of color, and that is one way that you can start to build that bridge,” said community member Quentin Moore.

The attorney general’s office reached an agreement with drugmakers for their role in fueling the opioid epidemic. The agreement returns more than $460 million to the Commonwealth and provides state and local governments with funds to help Kentuckians who struggle with addiction.