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Drug Abuse

Kentucky was ranked fourth by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation for the most medicated states in the U.S. While prescription medications offer valuable solutions for many serious maladies, they are widely abused as a recreational substance, along with other illicit drugs like cocaine, marijuana, and meth.

Prescription drug abuse stems from so called "pill mills,"  medical facilities which prescribe large amounts of opioids, CNS depressants, or stimulants without medical justification. Often, these facilities only accept cash and do not examine patients or existing medical records. In 2008 there was an average of 718 prescriptions per 1000 Kentucky residents (16 counties averaged over 3,000 prescriptions per 1000 residents), and that number is rising. Statewide, between 2006 and 2008, the rate of prescriptions dispensed for oxycodone increased 12.1%, hydrocodone increased 6.9%, and alprazolam (Xanax) increased 4.9%.

The state Medical Examiner identified 833 drug-related overdose deaths in 2009, 77% of which resulted from five prescription drugs. Substance abuse treatment is widely available  with over 330 treatment providers across the state. There are many drug abuse task forces in the state and the Recovery Kentucky Program has shown great success in its rehabilitative efforts. Since opening nine 100-bed recovery facilities, the Recovery Kentucky program has admitted more than 3,800 clients from all parts of the state.

Drug abuse mitigation is a statewide responsibility. Although the full effect of drug abuse in the commonwealth cannot be known, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy estimates that the loss of productivity, healthcare costs and drug-related crime related to drug abuse costs ranges from $2.5 to $3.6 billion annually.  The state has made resources available for individuals looking to end abuse in the lives of loved ones, their own lives, and their communities through treatment programs, tougher abuse-related laws, and reporting opportunities. If you suspect a pill mill in your community, the Illegal Health Care Facility/Service Reporting Form can be submitted anonymously and trigger an investigation which often causes operators to move or shut down.


Drug abuse is a top priority for cities and the KLC Legislative Team will monitor any legislative activity pertaining to this issue.




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