Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Takes Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program to Northern Kentucky

Press Release Date:  Monday, September 24, 2012  
Contact Information:  Shelley Catharine Johnson
Deputy Communications Director
502-696-5659 (office)
 


Attorney General Conway took his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program to Kenton County today, alerting students at Dixie Heights High School to the dangers of abusing prescription drugs. Joined by Dr. Karen Shay, a dentist from Morehead, Ky. who lost a daughter to a prescription drug overdose, and Bill Mark, Director of the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force, General Conway warned more than 700 students about an epidemic that is devastating families in every corner of the Commonwealth.

"One of two things is going to happen if you abuse prescription drugs; you're either going to jail or the grave," General Conway said. "It is never okay to take a prescription pill that wasn't prescribed to you by a doctor. These are some of the most addictive substances on the planet and taken in the wrong combination can kill you."

Prescription drug overdoses in Kentucky have doubled over the past decade, soaring to more than 1,000 a year. More Kentuckians are dying from overdoses than traffic accidents. In 2011, doctors in Kentucky prescribed more than 219 million doses of the hydrocodone, one of the drugs most commonly found in overdose victims. That equates to 50 doses for every man, woman and child in Kentucky.

"Prescription drug abuse is often the gateway to other drug use, like heroin," said Bill Mark with the Northern Kentucky Drug Strike Force. "I appreciate General Conway's leadership in combating this problem and his efforts to educate children across Kentucky about the dangers of abusing prescription medications."

To date, General Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners have held prevention assemblies in nearly two-dozen schools across the Commonwealth, alerting nearly 15,000 students to the deadly consequences of prescription pill abuse.

Attorney General Conway launched Keep Kentucky Kids Safe in 2010 with the Kentucky Justice Cabinet and its Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Operation UNITE and Dr. Karen Shay and Lynn Kissick, two mothers from Morehead, Ky. who lost their daughters to prescription drug overdoses. Shay's daughter, Sarah, died of an overdose in 2006.

"Prescription drug abuse has devastated my family," said Shay. "I will never get to see my daughter graduate from college, get married or hold her babies. No parent should have to endure the pain of burying their child. I hope Sarah's story will help kids realize that there are serious consequences to the choices they make."

Dr. Shay urges parents to monitor and secure all prescriptions in the home and to safely dispose of unneeded medications. Kentuckians are encouraged to utilize dedicated prescription drug drop boxes or participate in the DEA's National Take Back Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, September 29, 2012. General Conway's Prestonsburg office will be among hundreds of collection sites around the state. To find a take-back location near you, visit http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/ .

Prescription Drug Diversion Efforts

In addition to his public awareness efforts, Attorney General Conway worked closely with Governor Beshear, House Speaker Stumbo and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth.

In 2009, Attorney General Conway launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Diversion Task Force. The task force has been involved in more than 130 prescription drug diversion investigations, including Operation Flamingo Road, the state's largest prescription drug bust that resulted in the arrests of more than 500 people.

General Conway also reached across party lines to work with Florida's Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. The two continue to work closely to combat prescription drug abuse in their respective states and nationally. Generals Conway and Bondi are co-chairing the National Association of Attorneys General's (NAAG) Substance Abuse Committee and are committed to ensuring that all 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs and that all of the programs can share data across state lines. They've also testified together in front of Congress about the explosion of prescription drug abuse.

Additionally, the Attorney General's office is a member of the Interstate Prescription Drug Task Force that is working with neighboring states, like Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia, to shut down the prescription drug pipeline into Kentucky.

For more information on General Conway's drug diversion efforts or the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program, please visit http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse/ .

General Conway Supports Launch of Medicine Abuse Project

Attorney General Conway is supporting the launch this week of a new national action campaign to end prescription drug abuse among teenagers. As Co-Chair of NAAG's Substance Abuse Committee, General Conway is joining with The Partnership at Drugfree.org as it launches a multi-year initiative this week called The Medicine Abuse Project. The goal is to prevent a half a million teens from abusing prescription medications within five years.

As part of the Medicine Abuse Project, General Conway encourages individuals to sign the Pledge at MedicineAbuseProject.org, committing to learn about teen medicine abuse, safeguard prescription drugs in the home and to talk to teens about the issue. You can find more information about the Medicine Abuse Project and General Conway's efforts to fight prescription drug abuse at http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse/ .