Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jan 2003
Source: Appalachian News-Express (KY)
Copyright: 2003 Appalachian News-Express


Eastern Kentucky has been declared the painkiller capital of the nation. As 
if that weren't bad enough, Pike County itself was named number three on 
the list of places receiving the most narcotics per capita from 1998 to 2001.

These figures were part of an in-depth investigation published Sunday by 
the Lexington Herald-Leader into the prescription pill crisis sweeping this 

According to the data, compiled from federal Drug Enforcement 
Administration records, nearly a ton of narcotics were shipped into 
mountain counties during the four-year period. Narcotics such as OxyContin 
and Vicodin flood our cities and towns at much higher rates than Los 
Angeles, Detroit and Miami.

The information shows that besides OxyContin, people in the mountains 
prefer drugs such as Lorcet, Lortab and Vicodin, which are made from 
hydrocodone, an opium derivative. OxyContin made headlines in 2000 after 
dozens in the area overdosed on the pill, which was intended for the relief 
of long-term, moderate to severe pain.

The reason many choose the hydrocodone pills is because they are less 
regulated than OxyContin and doctors have fewer restrictions on prescribing 

All this addiction has resulted in overstuffed drug rehabilitation centers, 
jammed circuit court dockets and even a revolution in the way law 
enforcement agencies handle their jobs.

Over the past few years, law enforcement agencies have reported a sharp 
increase in "drugged" drivers, taking the place of the traditional drunken 
drivers. Old-fashioned Breathalyzer tests will no longer cut it, and police 
are having to blood test just about everyone they pull over. This, in turn, 
has led to a backlog of about 6,000 drug-identification cases at the 
Kentucky State Police lab in Frankfort. Because of the backlog, drug 
offenders are getting off the hook.

And what's worse, one state police captain said that for every prescription 
drug dealer taken off the streets, four stand ready to replace him.

Come on, people, this is ridiculous.

Law enforcement agencies are doing everything they can. The burden now 
falls on you, the people of this county, to do something about this 
problem, this crisis.

If you know someone who is hooked on prescription drugs, turn them in. If 
you know someone selling pills, turn them in. If you see someone buying 
pills, turn them in. If you have a legitimate reason to have pills, lock 
them up.

There's no money now for a drug rehabilitation center in Pike County. Even 
when we get it, it would take time to get it up and running. That means it 
is up to you - the mothers, brothers, children and cousins of addicts - to 
help them.

If nothing is done, Pike County could become number one on the list. That's 
not a distinction we need.  
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