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Far Fewer Kentucky Adults Are Getting Prescriptions for Pain Meds, According to Poll


A new poll shows a significant drop in the number of Kentucky adults who say they’ve been prescribed pain pills.

The Kentucky Health Issues Pollsays 34 percent of adults in the state say they got prescriptions for pain medicine over a five-year period leading up to, and including, 2017.

That’s a drop of 21 percentage points from a similar poll taken in 2011.

Kentucky is one of a number of states facing an addiction crisis related to powerful opioid painkillers.

Ben Chandler is the President and CEO of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, one of the groups that sponsors the poll.

He said while it’s impossible to say exactly what’s behind the decline, increased public awareness of the painkiller addiction issue is likely a big factor.

“I do think that we’re talking about it more, and I think people are more careful than they have been in the past, I think both in terms of providers prescribing and citizens taking pain medications. They’re more concerned about it than they have been in the past.”

The same poll shows that while prescription pill use may be declining in Kentucky, parts of the state continue to struggle with addiction to heroin and methamphetamines.

“When you remove some of the prescription drugs from circulation, sometimes they’re replaced by illicit drugs,” Chandler said. “We’ve seen that happen with heroin, and that’s something we need to guard against now.”

Chandler says Kentucky must continue to find ways to offer affordable substance abuse treatment servicesto those who need help.


Kevin is the News Director at WKU Public Radio. He has been with the station since 1999, and was previously the Assistant News Director, and also served as local host of Morning Edition.
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