Friday, August 2, 2019

Opioid panel in Mayfield says most new addictions start with prescription drugs, may transition to methamphetamine

Attorney General Andy Beshear moderated a panel in Mayfield
about opioids. (Photo by Liam Niemeyer, WKMS-FM)
A panel of addiction specialists and health-care leaders in West Kentucky “repeatedly said that addiction prevention in many cases starts at home,” in a panel discussion panel Aug. 1 about how to tackle the opioid epidemic, Liam Niemeyer reports for WKMS-FM in Murray.

Prevention at home includes getting rid of unused prescriptions and paying attention to the signs of addiction in others, such as changes in personality and stealing money, the panelists said.

All attendees of the event at Sullivan University in Mayfield got opioid disposal kits that neutralize prescription drugs -- like the ones provided to four counties, including Henderson and McCracken, through the Kentucky Opioid Disposal Pilot Program, launched in 2017 by Attorney General Andy Beshear, who led the discussion .
Beshear said most new addictions continue to be caused by prescription drugs. “Making sure that we don’t have the same prescribers flooding our communities, cleaning out every single medicine cabinet, and raising awareness that a stocked medicine cabinet is a threat to their kids is one of the most important steps we can take,” he said.

The Kentucky General Assembly passed a law in 2018 that requires pharmacists to inform customers about how to safely dispose of unused opioids and other controlled substances, and either provide or offer to sell them a product designed to neutralize the drugs, or provide an on-site disposal.

Jeremy Colwell, 32, of Hopkinsville, talked about the stigma that comes with addiction, noting that he had been in recovery from opioid addiction for three years and had been revived from overdoses multiple times with Narcan, the leading brand of naloxone.

“The best way to fight the stigma is just the fact that we’re another human being. We all have vices. Some of us just have problems manifested in different ways than others,” Colwell said. “So, the best way to stay out of the stigma is to stay in the solution. Don’t just point out the problem we have, but help us find the solution for it.”

Dr. Jeff Carrico, an addiction treatment specialist at West Kentucky Family Healthcare, said the region hasn’t been as severely impacted by the opioid epidemic as other parts of the state, and added that people with addictions in that region usually transition to methamphetamine if they can't get access to their prescription drug of choice.

Niemeyer reports that the panel also encouraged people with addictions to seek treatment and to use the Graves County syringe-exchange program, which opened in April.

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