Kentuckians affected by prescription drug abuse are invited to share their stories through Attorney General Jack Conway's prescription drug abuse prevention webpage. One in three Kentuckians has a friend or family member who has experienced problems as a result of abusing prescription pain relievers, according to the 2012 Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP).
"Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that has shattered families in every corner of the Commonwealth," General Conway said. "I have had too many parents cry on my shoulder and I have seen the pain of addiction on too many faces. Public awareness is a key component in our fight against prescription drug abuse. I encourage Kentuckians, of all ages, to share their stories of how prescription drug addiction has affected their families. Working together, we can make sure we don't lose another generation to this scourge."
Ashland, Ky. resident Mike Donta knows the heavy toll that prescription drug addiction can have on a family. In 2010, Donta's 24-year-old son, Michael, lost his three-year battle with prescription drug abuse. Donta, who travels with General Conway through his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, is now sharing his story as part of a series of videos entitled the "Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse." Donta's video was posted on the Attorney General's website today, on what would have been his son's 27th birthday.
"To receive a phone call that says your son is dead is devastating," said Donta. "I have traveled from one end of the state to the other with General Conway to share my message that prescription drugs really do kill. If you abuse prescription drugs, you are going to struggle the rest of your life. You are not born a drug addict; it's a choice you make. My son made some bad choices, and they cost him his life."
Donta's video is available for viewing at http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL18C32F62C07C4347 . In addition to Donta's video, Miss Kentucky Teen USA 2009 Jefra Bland tells how prescription drug abuse has forever changed her family.
Has prescription drug abuse affected you or your family?
If you or your family has been affected by prescription drug abuse, General Conway invites you to share your story. Videos may be submitted as a "video response" to any of our Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse clips. More detailed instructions on how to create a "video response" are available athttp://goo.gl/VzKp2 .
Combating prescription drug abuse
General Conway launched the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative in 2010 with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Operation UNITE and concerned parents. Since its launch, Attorney General Conway and his partners have alerted nearly 20,000 students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
In addition to his education and awareness efforts, Attorney 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 430 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.
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 passage its passage, prescriptions for hydrocodone are down almost 20 percent and prescriptions for Opana have been almost cut in half.
Efforts to combat prescription drug abuse in Kentucky are making a difference. The latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows a decline in the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky and for the first time, Kentucky, is below the national average for prescription drug abuse.
In addition to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, Attorney General Conway reached across party lines to work closely with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. The two have also worked closely to stop the flow of illegal prescription pills from Florida into Kentucky.