FRANKFORT, Ky. - Kentucky will join several states hard hit by prescription drug abuse to develop strategies to combat what is described as a still-growing problem, Gov. Steve Beshear said Friday.
Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon and Virginia will also take part in the initiative sponsored by the National Governors Association.
"Prescription drug abuse continues to be the fastest growing drug-related issue facing our communities, and unfortunately, Kentucky is not alone in this plight," Beshear said in a statement. "As the problem persists and spreads, we recognize that we need comprehensive regional and national strategies to combat the abuse, while ensuring that the legitimate medical needs of our citizens are met."
Representatives from the seven states will hold meetings to develop policies aimed at curbing prescription abuse. They also will get technical advice from national experts.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one person dies every 19 minutes in the United States from an overdose. And in Kentucky, overdoes are blamed for more than 1,000 deaths a year.
In a separate initiative announced Friday, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway joined another national effort aimed at preventing prescription abuse among teenagers.
"Prescription drug abuse is an all hands on deck issue," Conway said in a statement.
Conway, co-chairman of the National Association of Attorneys General's Substance Abuse Committee, said the goal of the initiative is to prevent a half million teens nationwide from abusing prescription drugs within five years through what's dubbed The Medicine Abuse Project.
"Non-medical use or abuse of prescription painkillers is the fastest-growing drug problem in the United States and it is killing our kids," Conway said. "This is an epidemic that is beginning in homes across Kentucky and the nation."
Conway, who has made the fight against prescription drug abuse a top priority during his two terms as attorney general, said more Kentuckians are now dying from overdoes than car wrecks.
The Medicine Abuse Project will focus on educating teens about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.
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