Opioid-addiction is a crisis around the region and nation, but treatment options are available

Insider Louisville LogoNo one is disputing that the opioid crisis is an epidemic in communities all over America. What starts for many as an addiction to legally prescribed painkillers can become an overwhelming craving that makes the introduction of heroin an economical and logical choice for many.

In fact, the number of deaths due to heroin overdose have recently surpassed the number of deaths due to motor vehicle accidents, Dr. Mary Bouldin, director of addiction medicine at LifeSpring Health Systems in Jeffersonville, says in a Passport-sponsored article on Insider Louisville.

“It’s very rare that somebody starts off shooting heroin,” she says. “Nobody wakes up saying ‘I think I want to be an injection-drug user today,’ but what happens is that because of the development of tolerance, people keep crossing lines that they thought they would never cross.”

For those caught up in the addiction cycle, it can be challenging to get treatment. To read more from Dr. Bouldin, and to see how the issue has affected one former NBA and UK basketball star, please click here.


Catching up, thanks to the Kentucky Health News independent news services

Inside Passport has been on a bit of a hiatus recently, but thankfully our friends at Kentucky Health News have been working hard to make sure nothing slips through. Here is a look at some key items that they’ve posted recently:

  • Colon Cancer Screenings: All too often Kentuckians don’t get screened for colon cancer because of fear, embarrassment, lack of access and cost concerns, but with March being National Colorectal Awareness Month it is a good time to reconsider these concerns, know that preventive screenings are covered by most health plans, and recognize that a decision to get screened could save your life.
  • Preventive Health: A study that looked at preventive health services among states in three categories found that Kentucky fell near the middle of the pack for most of the measures, but was in the top 10 for adult flu vaccinations and top five for prevention of high blood pressure, but in the bottom 10 for human papilloma virus vaccinations for males.
  • The future of Kynect and Expanded Medicaid: Democratic state Rep. Darryl Owens of Louisville has filed bills to keep Gov. Matt Bevin from keeping his campaign promises to dismantle the Kynect health-insurance exchange and scale back the expansion of Medicaid under federal health reform. Owens acknowledged that House Bill 5 and House Bill 6 would likely get nowhere in the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans who support Bevin’s approaches. However, but the filing of the bills prompted a lively discussion among four legislators on Bill Goodman’s “Kentucky Tonight” program on KET Feb. 29.
  • Poll about Kentuckians’ health: Regardless of how Kentucky adults describe their health status, almost two-thirds of them said it would be difficult or very difficult to make positive changes in their health, citing time, money and motivation as their main barriers, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll.
  • Free school meals: During the 2014-15 school year, 104 of the 173 public school districts in Kentucky provided free breakfast and lunch to all students, with 610 schools and 279,263 children benefiting in the program, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture website.
  • Smoking-ban bill: Despite early hope, the bill to ban smoking in Kentucky workplaces was likely dead on arrival this year.
  • Zika in Kentucky: After the first case of Zika was confirmed in Kentucky March 9, health officials held a news conference at the Capitol to raise awareness of the virus, noting that the state was coming up on the spring travel season.
  • Making Kentucky tobacco-free: An overwhelming majority of Kentucky adults, 85 percent, want schools to be tobacco-free, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll. But only 28 percent of the state’s school districts have “protected students, staff members, teachers and guests from secondhand smoke by enacting 100 percent tobacco-free school policies,” says a press release from Interact for Health, which co-sponsored the poll with the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
  • Painkiller prescriptions: Kentucky has the nation’s fourth highest rate of painkiller prescriptions, at about 130 prescriptions for every 100 people, Christine Vestal reports for Stateline. The high rate of painkiller prescriptions is being blamed on a rising rate of overdose deaths, leading health and government officials in many states to call for a limit on the number and strength of painkiller pills prescribed by doctors.
  • CDC recommendations for reducing overdoses: Doctors who prescribe highly addictive painkillers for chronic pain should stop and be much more careful to thwart “an epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses” that is “doctor-driven,” the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said March 15.
  • Annual Kentucky county health rankings: The sixth annual County Health Rankings report shows little change in Kentucky’s top and bottom rankings, but there were a few surprises, with several counties showing up in the top 10 for the first time.

Kentucky Health News is an independent news service of the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, based in the School of Journalism and Media at the University of Kentucky, with support from the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. For more information, go online to kyhealthnews.blogspot.com.