Friday, July 7, 2017

State starts awareness campaign about opioid abuse, treatment and naloxone; calls on all citizens to help fight opioid abuse

Kentucky has launched a public awareness campaign called "Don't Let Them Die" that focuses on the dangers of opioid abuse, treatment and a drug that can reverse an opioid overdose called naloxone.

“We don’t have the luxury of pretending there isn’t a problem,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a news release. “Every life is worth saving. There is not a person we would not want to see redeemed and removed from this addiction, and it is up to all of us to work together and find solutions.”

Kentucky saw a 7.4 percent increase in drug-overdose deaths in 2016, largely driven by heroin and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is up to 50 times more potent than heroin. Of the 1,404 overdose deaths in Kentucky, more than half involved fentanyl and a third involved heroin. Kentucky has the third highest drug-overdose rate in the country.

“Behind each number is a suffering soul and a wounded family that has often struggled with substance abuse for decades,” Justice Secretary John Tilley said in the release. “However, we also hear stories almost every day of hope and recovery. That’s why it’s essential that every Kentuckian joins this battle to preserve life. With the right support and resources, we know recovery is possible.”

The campaign will be conducted online and through statewide advertising that encourages Kentuckians to "learn about the risk of opioid abuse and spread the word." A recent study found that 80 percent of heroin use starts with a prescription opioid, says the release.

Radio and television ads, and the recently launched website, will feature audio from Nikki Strunct's 911 call when she discovered her son, Brandon, dying from an overdose in January 2016. Strunct is from Richmond.

The initial ads will aim to raise awareness about opioids and the realities of addiction; future ads will focus on resources and treatment. The website will be updated as new initiatives are introduced.

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