Cause for concern
- More than 1,000 Kentuckians die each year from prescription drug overdoses
- Kentucky's overdose death rate is the third-highest in the nation
- One in five teens has admitted to using prescription pills non-medically
Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest-growing drug problem. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that nearly one-third of people aged 12 and over who used drugs for the first time in 2009 began by using a prescription drug that wasn't prescribed to them.
In Kentucky, more than 1,000 people die each year from the abuse of powerful painkillers like Oxycodone and Hydrocodone. Kentucky is the 4th most medicated state in the country according to Forbes Magazine and it has the nation's sixth-highest rate of prescription drug overdose deaths. More Kentuckians are dying from overdoses than traffic accidents.
Attorney General Conway is attacking the problem on numerous fronts. In 2009, he launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force to crack down on overprescribing physicians, prescription pill traffickers, pill mills and the pill pipeline between Kentucky and states like Florida.
He is also warning Kentucky kids about the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. In 2010, he joined with the Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, the Kentucky Pharmacists Association, the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators, Operation UNITE and Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick, two mothers from Morehead, Ky. who lost daughters to prescription drug overdoses, to launch the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program.
Keep Kentucky Kids Safe
Attorney General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners travel to middle and high schools across the state to warn kids about the devastating consequences of prescription pill abuse. They are also urging parents to lock-up and monitor all prescriptions in the home.
Students hear from those on the frontlines in the battle against this epidemic, including Attorney General Conway, state officials, law enforcement, prosecutors, pharmacists and parents who have lost children to this scourge.
At the heart of the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program are Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick; two mothers from Morehead, Ky. whose families have been shattered by prescription pill abuse. You can watch a video of their story by clicking on the box at right.
Students react to the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe presentation
Attorney General Conway at a program in Prestonsburg, Ky.
Dr. Karen Shay at a program in Montgomery County.
Mike Donta at a program in Washington County. Mike lost his son Michael to prescription drug abuse.
Attorney General Conway talks to a student at a program in Madison County.
Student PSA Contest
Through the annual Keep Kentucky Kids Safe Video PSA contest students share their stories of the perils of prescription drug abuse for a chance to win great prizes, including an Apple iPad, iPod Touch and gift cards. Additionally, winning videos are posted online and distributed to television stations across the state.
For more information on the annual contest and past winning submissions, visit the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest page.
The Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse
A 2011 Kentucky Healthy Issues poll finds that one in three Kentuckians reported having a family member or close friend that abuses prescription drugs. It is an epidemic that is shattering families in every corner of the Commonwealth. As Attorney General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners travel the state, more Kentuckians are stepping forward to share their stories of how prescription drug abuse has affected their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
The Office of the Attorney General has created a "Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse" video series featuring stories of Kentuckians touched by prescription drug abuse.
Has prescription drug abuse affected you or your family?
If you or your family has been affected by prescription drug abuse, General Conway invites you to share your story. Contact us at StopRxAbuse@ag.ky.gov.
Combating Prescription Drug Abuse
Despite unprecedented budget cuts since taking office in 2008, Attorney General Conway has devoted additional resources to combat the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. The following a few of his many drug diversion accomplishments:
Attorney General Conway with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi
- 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.
- Worked with Gov. Steve Beshear and House Speaker Greg Stumbo to draft legislation to crack down on overprescribing physicians, pill mills and provide law enforcement with greater access to Kentucky's prescription drug monitoring program, KASPER.
- General Conway reached across party lines to work closely with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic monitoring program similar to KASPER.
- The Attorney General's office is a member of the newly created Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force working with neighboring states, like Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, to shut down the prescription drug pipeline into Kentucky.