Prescription painkillers are the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. It’s a startling statistic plaguing the nation and our Commonwealth. The pills prescribed by doctors to help make us feel better are, in fact, killing Kentuckians at an alarming rate simply because the medications are being abused. This dangerous issue is an epidemic that is starting in home medicine cabinets, and I need your help to stop it.
This Saturday, October 26, is the 7th National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. local time, more than 70 prescription drug collection sites will be set up across the Commonwealth for you to drop off any old and unused prescription drugs you may have in your home. My office will be hosting a "Take-Back" event in Prestonsburg located at 361 North Lake Drive. You can also find a site in your community by visiting the DEA website here. I hope you will join us this weekend in our ongoing fight against prescription drug abuse.
Earlier this week, we continued one of our initiatives created to warn Kentuckians about the dangers of prescription drug abuse and remind the public of how important securing and safely disposing of unneeded prescription pills is. With the generosity of Lamar Outdoor Advertising, prescription drug abuse awareness billboards are going up across the Commonwealth for a second year. Raising awareness about this issue through our billboard campaign is just one way we can help save lives. Lamar has donated the billboard space, and I’m grateful for the company’s help as we continue this important initiative. The Keep Kentucky Kids Safe billboards are already on display at locations in Lexington, and you can look for them in areas across central and southeastern Kentucky in the weeks to come.
Next Wednesday, we’ll be taking our Keep Kentucky Kids Safe message to schools in Barren and Warren counties. I’m really looking forward to catching up with the students there about this important issue, especially during Red Ribbon Week. We’ll be meeting with 7th-9th graders in Barren County that morning, and we’ll speak to the student body at Warren East High School in the afternoon. I appreciate the support that we’ve received from these two school systems. My friend and Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partner Mike Donta will also be traveling with us to share with the students his story of losing his son to prescription drug overdose.
Finally, I hope you’ll check out our latest video in our online "Face of Prescription Drug Abuse" campaign. We sat down with Dan Orman, assistant superintendent for Oldham County Schools, last month to tape this piece. Several years ago, Dan says school administrators became very concerned over a spike in drug and alcohol related offenses involving students. Since that time, faculty, staff and school board members have taken a proactive approach to help create positive changes in their schools. You can watch Dan’s message here to learn more about the great work school leaders there are doing. I am proud of the partnership the school district has formed with my office, and I appreciate its efforts to address and prevent these problems.