Tackling the Opioid Epidemic

Published: Oct. 1, 2016 at 1:29 PM EDT
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"Tackling the Opioid Epidemic" training at UK Hospital on Saturday focused on ending the opioid drug epidemic.

The key point was prevention and how to educate doctors in being more cautious when prescribing pills.

1297 people died from an overdose last year in Kentucky.

"And if we compare that to our nation, 129 Americans die every day of a drug overdose. If we had a commuter plane crashing every day, we'd fix that problem. So, this is a problem we've got to fix," said Executive Director of ODCP, Van Ingram.

Ingram says 80% of people using heroin started with an addiction to prescription pills.

And prescription pills were the focus at Saturday's training. Keynote speaker, Dr. Andrew Kolodny says today's opioid epidemic is, in many ways, caused by the medical community.

"The reason we're dealing with this problem is that the beginning of the late 90s the medical community started to prescribe very aggressively. And I think doctors were responding to a campaign that was encouraging aggressive use of these medicines," said Dr. Kolodny.

Dr. Kolodny said this leads to an increase in addiction. He adds that training practitioners is the goal for Saturday's training. The focus is on teaching therapies for treating addiction, perinatal interventions for drug abuse and to be more cautious when prescribing pills.

"We have to prevent new people from getting addicted and the most effective way to do that is to get doctors and dentists to prescribe more cautiously and that is what today is about. It's about getting the medical community to prescribe more cautiously," Dr. Kolodny said.