Attorney General visit prompts prescription drug discussion

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By Brandon Mattingly


Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway visited Washington County last Tuesday afternoon to speak to middle school students at Washington County High School, as part of his Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program.

Students from Washington County, North Washington and St. Dominic Middle Schools were warned of the dangers of abusing prescription drugs.
Mike Donta, of Ashland, Ky. -- whose son, Michael, passed away in 2010 after struggling with a prescription drug addiction -- and Springfield Police Chief Jim Smith spoke to the students about the toll drug addiction takes on family and friends, and the legal problems associated with drug abuse.
Conway got the students’ attention quickly by addressing the seriousness of the issue immediately.
“I want to talk to you about an issue that is quite literally an issue of life or death,” he said. “If you start taking pills that aren’t (prescribed) for you, you’re going down a path that is going to take you to some very bad places. That’s a path that’s likely to take you either to a grave, or to jail.”
He told the stories of families in Kentucky that have been affected by prescription drug addiction, and of more recognizable figures like Whitney Houston and Heath Ledger.
Conway informed the students that prescription pill addiction in the state has increased by 900 percent in the last 10 years, and that Kentucky is “the third or fourth most medicated state in the entire country.”
Donta told his son’s story, and talked about how quickly Michael and one of his friends fell into addiction.
“They took the first step in the path of destruction, because their lives were never really the same after that,” he said.
Donta said it’s hard to keep telling the story, but it’s worth it if it keeps one parent from going through what he’s endured.
“Hopefully we can at least help another parent not have to go through the struggle and the pain that I’ve had to go through,” he said.
Smith spoke about the consequences of being arrested for possessing prescription drugs illegally, and said Conway’s message is an important one because prescription drug abuse has increased drastically in Central Kentucky.
“The attorney general is very right to be concerned about this huge explosion of a prescription pill problem,” he said, comparing it to the cocaine explosion of the 1980s.
Conway closed by saying he wanted the students to go home and talk to a parent or guardian about the issue.
“Talk to them about locking up prescription pills and disposing of expired pills,” he said. “Talk to them about (prescription drug abuse) if you’ve seen it.”
Conway has been speaking throughout the Bluegrass, and spoke to students in Hardin County before stopping in Washington County last week. He helped launch the Keep Kentucky Kids Safe program in 2010.