Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway warned students at George Rogers Clark¿High School that they risk their lives and futures if they take medications not prescribed for them by a doctor.
“We’ve lost an entire generation to prescription drug abuse,” Conway told the students Thursday afternoon during an appearance at the school. That’s why he’s been touring high schools around the state to warn students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
“The non-medical use of prescription pain relievers among all age groups in Kentucky is down, and for the first time we are below the national average for prescription drug abuse,” Conway said in a press release. “Our progress is encouraging, but we remain vigilant so that we don’t lose another generation to pain pill addiction.”
Mike Donta, an Ashland native who lost his son, Michael, to prescription drugs, also addressed the students.
“Michael sat in a gym just like this and listened to someone talk about drug abuse,” Donta said. “My son didn’t choose to be addicted, but he did make bad choices. Those choices he made cost him his life.”
Donta told the students to avoid making those bad choices as no one sets out to become an addict. After numerous attempts to help his son get clean, Donta said the void created by his son’s death is felt at every family holiday.
“Until you lose a child, you have no idea what it’s like,” he said. “It’s too late for me. It’s too late for my son.”
The students also watched a video produced by Conway’s office detailing the dangers of prescription drugs.
“We’re losing more Kentuckians to overdose deaths than automobile deaths,” Conway told the assembly.
Kentucky has the sixth highest overdose rate in the country with more than 1,000 deaths reported each year.
Conway also touched on the success law enforcement and recent legislation has had on curbing the availability of prescription drugs and how that has led to an increase in cases of heroin abuse.
Prescription pain medication is commonly a gateway drug for heroin, he said, and the two share a base in opiates. As prescription drugs have become less available, addicts have begun looking for ways to achieve a similar high.
Van Ingram, executive director for the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, also spoke to the students briefly. The top four drugs found in overdose victims are prescription drugs, he told the assembly.
“These are some of the most addictive substances on the planet,” Conway said. “If taken in the wrong combination or with other substances, they can kill you.”
Conway also presented a check to the Youth Network of the Clark County ASAP (Agency for Substance Abuse Policy) for winning Conway’s Keep Kentucky Kids Safe PSA contest for 2012.
The students watched the video and Janna Smith of ASAP presented Conway with a small gift, some Ale-8 and Ale-8 related products.
“The Clark County Public Schools and Clark County community are very proud of our young people for their work of increasing the awareness of prescription drug abuse and the effects on our community,” Superintendent Elaine Farris said.
Contact Casey Castle at email@example.com.