Report: Kentucky sixth in nation for overdose deaths

By: Andy Cunningham Email
By: Andy Cunningham Email

Drug abuse continues to be a rampant problem in Kentucky.
Now, a new report ranks the Commonwealth sixth in the nation for overdose deaths involving prescription pain pills.

"The last couple of years overdose deaths have outpaced motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in Kentucky," said Van Ingram, Executive Director for the Office of Drug Control Policy.

A new Kentucky Health Issues Poll ranked northern Kentucky number one in the state for adults who say they've taken un-prescribed pain killers for recreational use. The Louisville Metro was second, eastern Kentucky third, The Lexington area fourth, and western Kentucky came in fifth.

"In the 90's and 2000's we were safe in saying this was an Eastern Kentucky issue. We can't say that anymore," said Ingram.

According to the report, almost 32 percent of people surveyed say they know someone who has abused prescription drugs.

"That's pretty significant, that's a lot of people," said Ingram.

Another 18 percent of people according to the report say they've been legally prescribed pain pills, say they've been over-prescribed, leading to an addiction.

"We need to reduce that number, we need to reduce how many opiate addicted people are created.
and we can do that by better education of patients and prescribers," he said.

Whether they get them legally or illegally. The effect is the same, Ingram said. Users become desperate for more.

"As this disease progresses, so does their involvement with the criminal justice system and those kinds of problems just start to magnify," he said.

In Kentucky, most new cases involve men and women ages 18-25.

Lawmakers have said this problem will take center stage in Frankfort in early 2012 in an order to close the gate.

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