FRANKFORT, KY (3/21/12) – Attorney General Jack Conway took his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to Hardin and Washington counties today, alerting nearly 1,000 middle and high school students to the dangers of abusing prescription pills.
"I want to make sure Kentucky doesn't lose another generation to prescription drug abuse," said General Conway. "Through our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe initiative, we are warning kids across the Commonwealth that they risk their lives and futures when they take a prescription pill that was not prescribed to them."
Non-medical use or abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest- growing drug problem in the United States, according to Office of National Drug Control Policy. According to a new report on prescription drug trends in Kentucky, treatment for opioid, or prescription pain-killer, abuse soared 900 percent from 1999 to 2008. At the same time, prescription drug overdose deaths in Kentucky have doubled and surpassed the number of traffic fatalities. It is a problem that is devastating families in every corner of the Commonwealth.
"My son made a choice to abuse prescription drugs and it cost him his life," said Mike Donta, of Ashland, Ky., whose son Michael died in 2010 after a long battle with prescription drug addiction. "General Conway's Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program is giving parents like me a chance to share our stories and hopefully prevent other kids from making the same mistakes my son made."
Attorney General Conway launched Keep Kentucky Kids Safe 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 Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick, two mothers who lost their daughters to prescription drug overdoses. Shay, Kissick and Donta are among a growing number of parents who are participating in the statewide initiative.
The Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners have visited middle and high schools across Kentucky, reaching nearly 8,000 students.
"Hardin County Schools is glad to welcome Attorney General Conway to our district," said Nannette Johnston, superintendent. "Students across the country are facing this issue; and we feel Attorney General Conway's message will be powerful in turning students away from the dangers of prescription drug abuse."
The top drug problem in Hardin County, according to the Greater Hardin County Narcotics Task Force, is the diversion and abuse of prescription pills. It is also a top concern in Washington County.
"We are pleased to work with Attorney General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners to address prescription drug abuse in our community and across Kentucky," said Wilma Sorrell, coordinator for the Drug Free Communities Support Program for Washington County Schools. "Our hope in Washington County is that all youth make the choice to be healthy and to have a bright and productive future."
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 130 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 joined with Governor Beshear and House Speaker Stumbo earlier this month to introduce sweeping legislation to combat the scourge of prescription drug abuse in Kentucky. House Bill 4 would transfer the operation of KASPER to the Attorney General's office and make its use mandatory for all prescribers.
Additionally, Attorney General Conway reached across party lines to work 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.
The Attorney General's office is also a member of the newly created Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force that is working with neighboring states, like Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, to shut down the prescription drug pipeline into Kentucky.
Information provided by the office of Attorney General
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