Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

January 26, 2013

45 percent of adults report knowing someone who has experienced problems from misuse

Carrie Stambaugh
The Independent

ASHLAND — Eastern Kentuckians are more likely to know someone who has experienced problems with prescription drugs than their counterparts in other regions of the state.

A new study by the Kentucky Health Issues Poll reported that 45 percent of adult eastern Kentucky respondents reported knowing someone who has experienced problems from misuse of prescription pain killers compared to 37 percent in the greater Lexington area, 32 percent in northern Kentucky, 31 percent in the Louisville area and 25 percent in western Kentucky.

More than half of Kentucky adults, 54 percent, reported they had been prescribed opioid prescription pain killers in the last five years. Only eight percent of respondents reported that they had misused a prescription drug — even once — but one in three reported they had a friend or family member who have abused prescription pain medications.

Young adults ages 18 to 29 were more likely to know someone at a rate of 49 percent, while adults age 65 and older were least likely at 15 percent.

“While these types of medications are important for controlling pain in patients who need them, opioids also carry the potential for abuse,” said Dr. Susan Zepeda, president and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. “Our state ranks sixth in the nation for prescription pain reliever overdose deaths and this data provides a window on how many Kentuckians are impacted — directly or indirectly — by prescription misuse.”

In 2008, Kentucky had a rate of prescription pain reliever overdose deaths at 17.9 deaths per 100,000 residents. According to researchers, Kentucky’s drug overdose deaths correspond to a steep increase in the sale of opioid prescription pain pills.

Kentucky is in the top quarter of states for its rate of prescription pain relievers sold per capita, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The KHIP poll was conducted from Sept. 20 to Oct. 14, 2012 by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of 1,680 adults throughout Kentucky were interviewed by phone, including 320 by cell phone and 1,360 by landline.

CARRIE STAMBAUGH can be reached at cstambaugh@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653.