A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UnitedHealthcare Dental engaging providers and patients to reduce opioid painkiller prescriptions

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service Oral health is a key component in fighting the opioid epidemic, and dental professionals and their patients in Kentucky are encouraged to take a more proactive role in prevention. Dentists and oral surgeons write 12 percent of all opioid prescriptions. While often necessary to combat dental pain, opioids come with a high risk of misuse and addiction. That’s...

Michael Fletcher: Pass House Bill 121; get addiction treatment into the hands of those who need it

In 2019, every Kentuckian knows someone struggling with addiction and we are well aware that this epidemic is wreaking havoc on our communities and in our country. As an Addiction Specialist Physician practicing here in the Commonwealth, I look into the eyes of these people every day. My patients are filled with determination to beat an illness that has devastated their career, their family and their...

Federal government approves Kentucky’s plan for innovation in Medicaid SUD services

The federal government recently approved Kentucky’s implementation plan for substance use disorder services under the 1115 waiver submission from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS). The plan will increase Medicaid enrollees’ access to care and enhanced benefits to improve treatment and outcomes for substance use disorder (SUD). The enhanced Kentucky Medicaid SUD treatment package...

Experts to take an even deeper look at Kentucky’s opioid crises at September 24 forum in Lexington

By Mary Kuhlman Public News Service As health, business and community leaders in Kentucky continue their work to combat the opioid epidemic, they’ll take an even deeper dive into the problem at an upcoming event. In recent years, the state has limited painkiller prescriptions and joined a lawsuit against drug companies. Despite these efforts, drug overdose deaths in Kentucky have jumped about...

Maryhurst meets increasing demand for behavioral health services through innovative approaches

The historic nonprofit Maryhurst is taking a fresh, bold and unique step to reach new youth and families who are increasingly affected by destabilizing social crises in Kentucky. Known for 175 years as primarily providing residential care to adolescent girls who have experienced severe trauma, Maryhurst has now increased emphasis on its community-based counseling and foster care programs to meet a...

University of Kentucky experts seek solutions at Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit in Atlanta

Few states have been harder hit by the opioid epidemic than Kentucky. Countless lives have been lost, families have been broken and communities have been ravaged. That’s why University of Kentucky physicians, researchers and academic and administrative leaders joined nearly 3,000 experts from all 50 states at the annual Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit this week in Atlanta, Georgia. Physicians, Researchers...

Rural Blog: Kentucky partnership creates system to track drug overdoses, to help fight opioid epidemic

Kentucky has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, but the state is trying to fight it with innovative efforts to gather more specific data about overdose deaths. The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, a partnership between the state Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, built a “drug-overdose fatality surveillance system” that...

Mitch McConnell: Why fighting opioid epidemic is necessary, and why we must fight back

The pain of the opioid epidemic continues to ravage communities across the country – especially here in Kentucky. For years, I have worked with my colleagues in Congress to fight back. Just recently, President Donald Trump took a significant step by formally recognizing a public health emergency for opioids. I commend the President for reaffirming his commitment to tackling this critical problem,...

Research finds nation’s opioid epidemic could be large enough to have an impact on labor force

Estimates of drug usage rates suggest the opioid epidemic could be large enough to have an impact on the labor force, say researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Drug overdoses now account for more deaths in the United States than traffic deaths or suicides, and most of the increase in overdose deaths since 2010 can be attributed to opioids–a class of drugs that includes both...

Dreamland author says opioid epidemic leads to discussion of addiction, first step to finding solutions

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Since Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic was published in 2015, the author says the nation has seen both positive and negative changes in the epidemic that is sweeping Kentucky and other states. “The negative changes are pretty dramatic,” Sam Quinones said in a telephone interview with Kentucky Health News. “The number...

Robert Couch: Physicians must help lead Kentucky out of opioid crisis, and not just during office hours

Constricted pupils, slowed breathing, blue lips and skin. Health care providers in Kentucky have become all too familiar with these telltale signs of a drug overdose. It’s not a pleasant sight, and last year alone, opioid overdoses caused the deaths of more than 1,400 Kentuckians. During my 34 years as an emergency physician, I have never witnessed a public health issue as dire as the state’s current...

Author of opioid epidemic book Dreamland says it began with easy answers to tough questions

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News The opioid epidemic began with a desire for “easy answers to complicated problems,” and the solution to it needs to avoid similar mistakes, the author of the seminal book on the topic said recently on KET’s “Connections with Renee Shaw.” “As a culture we need to learn patience. It took us a long time to get into this and it will take...

Kentucky doctors, lawmakers, insurance companies battle opioid epidemic by limiting prescriptons

To fight the opioid epidemic, Kentucky doctors, legislators and health-insurance companies are working to limit the prescription of painkillers. At the annual convention of the Kentucky Medical Association, a University of Kentucky trauma surgeon told other physicians how he and his colleagues got a wake-up call about the problem and “how they were able to halve the amount of opiates given to...

Louisville files federal lawsuit against three major opioid companies for damages

By Tom Latek Kentucky Today Mayor Greg Fischer announced on Monday that Louisville has filed a federal lawsuit against three major wholesale drug distributors. “We have lost a generation of people to opiates,” Fischer said. “We’ve seen a spike in violent crime tied directly to the sale and misuse of opioids. And we are spending millions of dollars on health, public safety and justice expenses,...

Governor’s office placing rocks with anti-drug messages around Kentucky’s state parks

Gov. Matt Bevin’s office says it is putting painted rocks around the state to raise awareness about Kentucky’s opioid epidemic and the governor’s “Don’t Let Them Die” initiative to fight it. “Rocks for this campaign will initially be hidden in the Frankfort, Lexington and Louisville areas but the governor’s office hopes to have rocks placed in all 120 Kentucky counties...

Kentucky’s opioid crisis focus of Sept. 25 meeting of Howard Bost Health Policy Forum

Author and journalist Sam Quinones, whose book Dreamland chronicles the rise of prescription opioid abuse and subsequent heroin addiction across suburban and rural America, will keynote the Howard L. Bost Health Policy Forum on Sept 25 in Lexington. The title of the 15th annual forum, underwritten by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky with support from Gilead Sciences, Inc., is “Kentucky’s...

Knowing naloxone administration skills can give someone another chance at life following overdose

By Dr. Raeford Brown Special to KyForward It’s a terrifying scenario that’s become all-too-real in the age of the opioid epidemic: a person lying lifeless, not breathing, because of an opioid overdose. According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the rates of opioid overdose deaths continue to rise in Kentucky. More than 1,400 people in the state died of a drug overdose in 2016, and...

Beshear announces plans to pursue litigation against ‘contributors’ to state’s opioid crisis

Attorney General Andy Beshear is taking another step in the fight against what he believes is the single greatest threat to Kentucky – the state’s drug epidemic. Beshear announced that his office intends to file multiple lawsuits against drug manufacturers, distributors and retailers where there is evidence that they contributed to the opioid epidemic by illegally marketing and selling opioids...