A report released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Kentucky ranked one of the highest in the nation for prescribing Opioid painkillers in 2012. Eastern Kentucky healthcare workers and law enforcement weigh in on what they say is a daily concern.
259 million prescriptions for painkillers are enough to fill a bottle for every American adult, and also, was the number prescribed in the United States in 2012. Kentucky ranked as one of highest per capita with 128 prescriptions written for every 100 people.
“I would say we have contact with people who are on opiates, just a rough guess, around two or three time a day,” says Captain Jason Duff of the Hazard Police Department.
It’s a trend law enforcement officials with the department say is common across the entire Appalachian region. Area health care workers say dealing with requests for these pills is just as common.
“I myself find it almost, I shouldn't say almost, but on a routine daily basis being addressed for pain measure,” says Denise Kilburn, an area nurse practitioner.
So what exactly is causing this problem? Kilburn say it's a complicated - ranging from doctor shopping behaviors, lack of access to specialists, and tolerance build-up. In the meantime, she says, patient health is being potentially compromised.
“You have all these young people that don't realize that these opiates and these addictive medications are taking over their liver, their kidneys, and they're not going to be lasting very long like that,” Kilburn said.
Complicated or not however, Kilburn says everyone agrees that something needs to change, and perhaps this report will inspire solutions moving forward.
To read a full copy of the CDC report, you’ll find a link attached to this article.