Prescription drug abuse still a problem - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Prescription drug abuse still a problem

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- It's a shocking statistic:  More people in Kentucky die from prescription drug overdoses than car accidents.

"It's literally been killing our people 1 in 5 high schoolers is using pain killers for non-medical purpose. One in five in Kentucky today," says Kentucky Attorney General, Jack Conway.

Kelli Bain was that high school student.  She started using prescription drugs and her life took a tailspin.  She's spent the last 10 years fighting her addiction to Oxycontin and Opana.

9 months ago she checked herself into the Healing Place drug rehab center in Louisville.

"Your physically sick your buckled over you can't function," describes Bain.

Conway decided to do something about the state's drug problem when the problem hit too close to home.

"I don't really talk about it much in public but a member of my immediate family was impacted in a very profound way by an addiction," he says.  

Conway took his fight to Frankfort.  House Bill 1 was passed in April expanding Kentucky's prescription monitoring system called KASPER.   State police and the Attorney General's Office are notified when the system finds someone writing an excessive amount of prescriptions. 

"We had an increase in these prescriptions for years and years and for the first time we're starting to see these number reverse themselves a little bit," the Attorney General says.

Conway is now preparing for what could be the biggest legal battle he's ever fought.

He's suing the manufacturer of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma. He claims the company marketed the drug as a safe non habit forming pain killer despite knowing the truth.

"I would hope two things:  One I make an example that you don't ever market something this dangerous in such a cavalier way again and secondly, I think they have to pay," says Conway.

Bain, wants the drug company to know the pills almost cost her, her life. About a year ago when the drugs in Kentucky started getting harder to get she made the jump to the drug that could give her the same high, heroin.

"That's what takes you to limits you never thought you'd go to. You break barriers," says Bain.

"I heard a doctor this week saying…it's not a stretch to call them heroin pills," says Conway.

Heroin like Oxycontin is an opiate. It's also cheaper on the street to buy Heroin than it is Oxycontin.  A drug treatment facility in Louisville tells me at a 30 bed facility 28 of those beds are filled with heroin addicts in recovery.  Heroin addiction is the next epidemic that's just started to take shape in the last 6 months. 

"We're seeing more heroin on the streets because a lot of these pills cannot be crushed they can't be melted down and injected so some people are still trying to get the injection high,"says Conway.

Bain, wants others to learn from her mistakes, mistakes that all started when she snorted her first pill.

"It's possible to recover from it. You can have a better life than you had before the pills came along. I do," she says.

Over the last year, Opana prescriptions have decreased by 48% in the state, Oxycontin by 16%. Heroin use is on the rise.

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