Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Conway Kicks Off 2013-2014 Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Programs at Trinity High School
Attorney General Jack Conway and his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe partners alerted students at Trinity High School in Louisville to the dangers of abusing prescription drugs today during a kick-off to this school year's Keep Kentucky Kids Safe programs. Joined by Mike Donta, an Ashland, Ky. father who lost his son to prescription drug addiction, and Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, General Conway urged the 350 students who attended the program not to be the next generation lost to prescription painkiller abuse.
"Nationally, prescription painkillers are now the number one cause of accidental death in the United States, and in Kentucky, approximately three people will die today from prescription drug overdoses," General Conway said. "We're losing more people to overdoses than traffic accidents."
Since launching the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program in 2010 with the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Kentucky Pharmacists Association, National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI), Operation UNITE and concerned parents, General Conway and his partners have alerted more than 20,000 middle and high school students to the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
"The top drugs killing our citizens, coincidentally, are the top drugs being prescribed in our state," said Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, which was created in 2004 to serve as the coordinating agency for substance abuse programs and issues in Kentucky. "When not taken appropriately and under a doctor's orders, prescription drugs are deadly."
Students also heard from Mike Donta, whose son died in 2010 at the age of 24 following a three-year battle with prescription pill addiction.
"I can't bring him back," Donta said. "What I can do is talk to these students to help make sure their parents don't have to go through what I have. Life is all about choices, and every choice you make has a consequence. My son made bad choices."
School officials at Trinity High praised the program and efforts to raise awareness among middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
"We applaud Attorney General Conway's efforts in this matter," said Dr. Robert Mullen, president of Trinity High School. "The scourge of prescription drug abuse is harming young and old alike. Education can be a tremendous tool in this fight for all of Kentucky's children."
Today's program comes amid clear signs that Kentucky is making progress in its fight against the epidemic of prescription drug abuse. According to the latest report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky is down and for the first time, the state is below the national average for prescription drug abuse.
Pictures of today's program can be found here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kyoag/sets/72157635569200555/
Prescription Drug Diversion Efforts
In addition to his awareness efforts, Attorney General Conway launched Kentucky's first and only statewide Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force in August of 2009. The task force has been involved in more than 430 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 worked closely with Gov. Steve Beshear, House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Senate President Robert Stivers and other lawmakers to win passage of landmark legislation in 2012 to prevent the abuse and diversion of prescription pills in the Commonwealth. Since its passage, nearly half of Kentucky's pain clinics have shut their doors and prescriptions for the most abused and diverted drugs, like oxycodone, hydrocodone and Opana, have significantly decreased.
In addition to the work being done here in the Commonwealth, General Conway reached across party lines to work with Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to ensure that her state implemented an electronic prescription drug monitoring system similar to Kentucky's KASPER system. Together they have worked to shut down the pill pipeline between Florida and Kentucky and to see that all 50 states have prescription drug monitoring programs in place and that all of the programs can share data across state lines.
Attorney General Conway and General Bondi currently serve as co-chairs of the Substance Abuse Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).
Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse
Attorney General Conway invites Kentuckians of all ages to share their stories about how prescription drug addiction has affected their families and communities through his "Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse" video series. Videos may be submitted as part of a "video response" to any Faces of Prescription Drug Abuse clips available on the Attorney General's website at http://ag.ky.gov/rxabuse/ .