Almost one in three Kentuckians say they have a friend or relative that has had problems stemming from prescription drug abuse, the Kentucky Health Issues Poll has found.
In Eastern Kentucky, 43.2 percent of respondents said “yes” when asked if a family member or friend had had problems because they had abused pain pills. In the Lexington area, it was 39.4 percent. Western Kentucky had the lowest number at 19.7 percent. Statewide, it was 31.9 percent.
“Although other studies have shown that Kentucky has among the highest levels of prescription-drug abuse in the nation, the latest survey helps illustrate how pervasive the issue has become in the state,” reports Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The survey, which polled 1,614 people, found that people ages 18 to 29 were more likely to have a friend or relative who had had a problem with pill abuse — 43.8 percent compared to 29.7 percent of people ages 46 to 64.
“Other findings include that 54.5 percent of those polled in Kentucky said they’d been prescribed a pain reliever such as OxyContin, Vicodin or Percocet in the past five years,” Estep reports. “The rate in Appalachia was the lowest in the state, at 46.4 percent. That might reflect that there are fewer medical providers in that part of the state, and that fewer people have insurance.”
The survey also asked respondents if they had ever used a prescription drug that was not prescribed to them. In that case, just 5.5 percent said yes, but nearly twice as many 18-to-29-year-olds answered yes. “These findings underscore the impact misuse of prescription pain medications is having in Kentucky and the importance of work by prescribers and policymakers to assure that these drugs aren’t used inappropriately,” said Susan Zepeda, chief executive officer of the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, which helped fund the survey.
The poll was also funded by The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati. It was conducted Sept. 27 to Oct. 27 by the Institute for Policy Research at the University of Cincinnati. A random sample of adults across Kentucky were interviewed, including 1,313 landline interviews and 308 cell-phone interviews. For more from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, click here. (Read more)