Attorney General Jack Conway and the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy have jointly released a public service announcement (PSA) to increase awareness of heroin abuse among young people and to warn their parents of the signs.

The 30-second PSA, http://youtu.be/leznM7P2O0g, depicts a young woman in a morgue who describes how easy it has been to hide her heroin habit from her parents—that is until she becomes an overdose victim.

"This short PSA sends an important message to parents and teens across Kentucky," General Conway said. "Don't overlook the signs of heroin use. Missing prescription pills, valuables and lost appetite are all signs that your child may be abusing heroin, prescription pills or other illicit drugs. Ignoring the signs could mean a lifetime of heartache."

The PSA, produced by the Nassau County, NY District Attorney's Office, being distributed to television stations across Kentucky along with other drug abuse prevention videos, including the winning Keep Kentucky Kids Safe prescription drug abuse prevention PSA produced by members of the Clark County High School ASAP Youth Network http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QbZL75z3iOo .

While prescription drug abuse has risen, so too has heroin abuse. Heroin samples collected and analyzed by the Kentucky State Police lab jumped 211 percent from 2010 to 2012. The lab analyzed and confirmed 433 heroin submissions in 2010 compared to 1,349 in 2012.

"The misuse of prescription medications is often a stepping stone to the abuse of illicit drugs like Heroin," said Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. "Tamper-proof formulations of popular opioids have also contributed to a resurgence of Heroin abuse and it's cheaper and more readily available."

Kentucky is the fourth most medicated state in the country, and it has the sixth highest rate of overdose deaths. More than 1,000 Kentuckians die each year from prescription drug overdoses.

Warning Signs of Drug Abuse:

  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Inability to sleep, fatigue
  • Slowed or staggering walk
  • Extreme hyperactivity
  • Tremors
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Needle marks of lower arm, leg or bottom of feet
  • Change in overall attitude/personality
  • Declining academic performance
  • Sudden oversensitivity, moodiness
  • Unexplained need for money

If your child is abusing heroin, prescription drugs or another illicit substance, visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse or http://odcp.ky.gov to find important information and resources. Parents can also call a toll-free Helpline at 1-855-DRUGFREE (1-855-378-4373).

Combating Prescription Drug Abuse

In 2009, General Conway launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force to increase investigations into pill mills, overprescribing physicians, prescription drug trafficking and doctor shopping. To date, General Conway's Drug Investigations Branch and Task Force have opened more than 430 cases. The Task Force also participated in Operation Flamingo Road, the state's largest prescription drug bust that resulted in the arrests of more than 500 people.

General Conway's Office joined forces with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, concerned parents and other state and law enforcement partners in 2010 to launch the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe prescription drug abuse awareness initiative. To date, the partners have alerted more than 15,000 middle and high school students to the dangers of misusing prescription drugs.

Attorney General Conway also worked closely with Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation in 2012 to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth.

Since its implementation, 20 of the state's 43 known pain management clinics have shut down because they can't comply with the registration requirements of House Bill 1. The number of medical providers registered to use the state's prescription drug monitoring program (KASPER) has tripled, while KASPER reports have jumped from 3,000 to nearly 20,000 per day.

Additionally, prescriptions for some of the most abused or diverted drugs dropped from November 2011 to November 2012. Prescriptions for Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are down 16 percent and Opana prescriptions, linked to a growing number of overdose deaths, have dropped 48 percent.

For more information on General Conway's prescription drug diversion efforts, visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse.

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