(LOUISVILLE, Ky - July 25, 2018) Adults getting prescriptions for pain medication dropped significantly in Eastern Kentucky from 2011 to 2017, as it did for Kentucky as a whole, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) report. While 46 percent of Eastern Kentucky adults asked in 2011 said they were prescribed pain pills in the prior five years, that percentage dropped to 26 percent in 2017.

Statewide, 34 percent of Kentucky adults said they got prescriptions for pain meds in the five years up to and including 2017, a drop from 55 percent who responded similarly in 2011.

The same report found that Eastern Kentucky continues to struggle with problems resulting from the use of methamphetamines and heroin, although prescription pain pill issues appear to be declining.

KHIP, an annual opinion poll of Kentucky adults, is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Cincinnati-based Interact for Health. This latest report highlights responses to a wide range of health questions from adults in a 46-county region in Kentucky.

A piece of encouraging news on the substance use front for Eastern Kentucky: Fewer of those who were prescribed pain meds thought they got too many pills. Just three percent thought they were overprescribed pain pills in 2017, compared to 7 percent in 2011.

The KHIP Eastern Kentucky spotlight also found strong majority support for certain tobacco-control measures, including a statewide smoke-free law and a law prohibiting use of any tobacco products on school campuses. In addition, the report found a significant drop in unfavorable opinions about the Affordable Care Act among Eastern Kentucky adults, mimicking lower statewide disapproval of the health care law.
Responses to other health and health policy questions from Eastern Kentucky adults included:

Health Care/Insurance
  • 85 percent support providing affordable, quality health care for all Americans, similar to the statewide level of support, 87 percent.
  • 18 percent of adults ages 18-64 said they currently had no health insurance, down by nearly half since 2013.

Substance Use Issues

  • 62 percent believe addiction is a disease, while 35 percent disagree; that's compared to 70 percent of Kentucky adults statewide who believe addiction is a disease and 26 percent who do not.
  • 78 percent favor court-mandated treatment for those with a first or second drug offense; 81 percent statewide agreed with that approach.

Tobacco Issues

  • 70 percent support a statewide smoke-free law, up from 54 percent in 2014; 71 percent statewide support such a law.
  • 84 percent favor tobacco-free school campus policies; 87 percent statewide favor such policies.
  • 55 percent favor increasing the minimum legal age from 18 to 21 to purchase tobacco products; 58 percent statewide favor that change.

Other Health Questions

  • 85 percent also support schools taking a more active role in helping families get health care services for their children, unchanged from 2009, the last time this question was asked and similar to statewide poll results.
A copy of the Eastern Kentucky regional KHIP report is available here, as are reports for Northern Kentucky, Western Kentucky, and the regions surrounding and including Louisville and Lexington.The data on which this news release is based is from the Foundation's Kentucky Health Issues Poll, unless otherwise noted.

About the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky
Funded by an endowment, the mission of the nonpartisan Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky is to address the unmet health needs of Kentuckians by developing and influencing policy, improving access to care, reducing health risks and disparities, and promoting health equity. Since the Foundation opened its doors in 2001, it has invested more than $27 million in health policy research, advocacy, and demonstration project grants across the Commonwealth. Follow the Foundation on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and visit our website at www.healthy-ky.org.

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