Thursday, 02 27, 2014
Deputy Communications Director
Attorney General Jack Conway took his Keep Kentucky Kids
Safe program to Mercer County today, sharing his message about the dangers of
prescription drug abuse and heroin with approximately 680 students at King
Middle School. General Conway was joined
in Mercer County by Mike Donta, a concerned parent whose son died in 2010 after
a long battle with prescription drug addiction.
"These are some of the most addictive substances on the
planet and they are responsible for more deaths in Kentucky than traffic
accidents," General Conway said.
"I’m here to tell you that two things are going to happen if you
take pills that aren’t intended for you -- you’ll end up in jail or in the
Nationally, prescription painkillers are the leading cause
of accidental death in the United States.
In 2012, there were about 220 million doses of the highly addictive
painkiller hydrocodone dispensed in Kentucky.
That’s 51 doses of the drug for every man, woman and child in the
Commonwealth. Additionally, a report by
the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health lists Kentucky as having the
third-highest rate of fatal overdoses -- the vast majority from prescription
pills -- in the country.
"My son made a choice to abuse prescription drugs and
it cost him his life," Donta said.
"By sharing his story I hope I can persuade and encourage kids to make
Heroin is now rapidly replacing prescription painkillers as
the drug of choice in many parts of Kentucky.
According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, statewide
heroin overdose deaths increased by 650 percent in 2012. In December, General Conway, along with Sen.
Katie Stine and Rep. John Tilley, announced bipartisan legislation that was
created to stop this disturbing trend.
The bill, which was introduced during the 2014 regular session of the
Kentucky General Assembly, increases punishment for heroin traffickers,
promotes treatment for addicts, and increases public awareness and education.
"Heroin is an opiate and it mimics the same high people
get from crushing and injecting opioid painkillers," General Conway
said. "While illegally obtained
prescription drugs have become more expensive and harder to get, the price and
difficulty of obtaining heroin have dropped.
Since launching the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program in 2010
with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists
Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI),
Operation UNITE and concerned parents, General Conway and his partners have
alerted approximately 40,000 students, teachers and parents to the dangers of
abusing prescription drugs and heroin.
"The safety of our students is our number one priority
at our school," said Terry Gordon, principal at King Middle School. "Part of that responsibility includes
educating our students in the area of drug and alcohol abuse, and King Middle
School has partnered with local law enforcement for a number of years in this
process. The DARE program is part of our
sixth-grade curriculum. Next year, a
similar program will be implemented in eighth grade. We are grateful the Attorney General has made
educating students about prescription drug abuse and heroin a top
Kentucky continues to make progress in its fight against the
epidemic of prescription drug abuse.
According to the 2012 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention School Survey,
the percentage of Kentucky teens misusing prescription drugs has dropped
dramatically over the past four years.
Additionally, a recent report from the Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration shows the non-medical use of prescription
pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky is down and for the first time,
the state is below the national average for prescription drug abuse.
Photo is available here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kyoag/12822117384/
Prescription Drug Diversion Efforts
General Conway launched Kentucky’s first and only statewide Prescription Drug
Abuse Prevention Task Force in August of 2009. The task force has been
involved in more than 450 prescription drug diversion investigations, including
Operation Flamingo Road, the state’s largest prescription drug bust that
resulted in the arrest of more than 500 people.
Conway also worked closely with Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo, Senate
President Stivers and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation in
2012 to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the
Commonwealth. Since passage of HB 1, overdose deaths in Kentucky declined
for the first time in a decade and more than half of the state’s pain
management clinics have closed their doors.
2014, General Conway announced that more than $32 million recovered in
settlements with two pharmaceutical companies is being used throughout Kentucky
to expand substance abuse treatment, including opiate addictions. The
settlement funds will create a new treatment center for adults, treatment
scholarships, a grant program for new juvenile treatment beds and/or centers,
and expanded services for juveniles.
to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Conway
reached across party lines to work with Attorney General Pam Bondi in Florida
to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring
system similar to Kentucky’s KASPER system. Together they have worked to
shut down the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky and to see that all 50
states have prescription drug monitoring programs in place and that all of the
programs can share data across state lines. General Conway and General
Bondi serve as co-chairs of the National Association of Attorneys General
Substance Abuse Committee.
Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse
General Conway invites Kentuckians of all ages to share their stories about how
prescription drug addiction has affected their families and communities through
his “Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse” video series. Videos may be
submitted by visiting the Attorney General’s website at ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.