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County sees 42 percent increase in prescriptions

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By Kristin Beck

A recent statewide report has confirmed that prescription drug use remains a problem in Carroll County.

From 2005 to 2007, the rate of prescriptions dispensed for controlled substances increased by almost 42 percent in the county, the second highest increase in the state, according to a report published by the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

“The study bears out what we have been noticing in Carrollton and Carroll County, which is that the number of arrests, investigations, and trafficking indictments is on an increase in regards to controlled substances,” Carrollton Police Chief Michael Willhoite said.

Champions for a Drug Free Carroll County Chairperson Leigh Ann Roberts agreed that while the percentage is high, other factors came into play.

“You have to take into account that Carroll County also has a Walmart, a Kroger, and several other pharmacies that have lower priced drugs, so you have people in that statistic that come to Carroll County to get their drugs,” Roberts said.

The study also found an increase in 118 of Kentucky’s 120 counties, with five  — Clinton, Magoffin, Whitley, Bell, and Owsley — averaging more than four controlled substance prescriptions dispensed per resident.

“A lot of these prescription pain medications are as addictive as cocaine, as addictive as methamphetamines,” Willhoite said. “But these pills and medications are a lot easier to get, so I think a lot of the people are legitimately starting out on these pain medications and getting addicted to them.”

Willhoite said all of his officers have taken extra training to learn how to investigate cases involving controlled substances. The department has also engaged in programs such as the pharmaceutical recovery program to reduce the number of prescription drugs that can make their way on to the streets.

Local residents can drop off unused pills at the city’s police department in a secure container 24-hours a day. Recently, Champions, with the assistance of city and state police, took the mobile recovery box to Sanders, Ghent, Worthville and English to allow residents to dispose of their medications.

Beginning in October, Champions will begin a positive peer campaign that will highlight those in the community who are positively impacting kids in the county.

The Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting System (KASPER) provided the data for the report. While the information does not provide a snapshot of today, it helps authorities recognize trends and see how their county stacks against other counties in the state, said Jennifer Brislin, the communications director for the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet.

“(The Cabinet’s report is) a means to compile pertinent information into one useable resource,” Brislin said. “We think it is very helpful for everyone involved in criminal justice to be able to have one source to go to to cite trends and statistics. It’s just one more resource we can put out there to help people.”