Three Rockcastle County High School students will help “put a face” on the “hidden victims” of the prescription drug abuse epidemic during a show to air on CNN this weekend.
Senior Hannah Eaton, Junior Sean Watkins and Sophomore Avery Bradshaw were interviewed earlier this year for the national cable network’s weekend health show, “Sanjay Gupta MD.”
The show will air on CNN Saturday, December 15, at 4:30 pm and again on Sunday, December 16, at 7:30 am.
“Every 19 minutes, in this country, someone dies of a prescription drug overdose,” noted CNN Producer Nadia Kounang. “Kentucky has the sixth highest overdose rate in the nation. But, when we read about those numbers, so often we forget about the hidden victims of this epidemic – the kids.”
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s Emmy-award winning Chief Medical Correspondent, discusses those who’ve been hit the hardest by the prescription drug epidemic.
All three students have lost a parent or relative because of substance abuse.
“It’s a devastating legacy,” Kounang said.
In southern and eastern Kentucky, the average age of first time drug use is age 11, well below the average of 14 for rural drug users in Appalachia, based upon a 2011 publication by researchers at the University of Kentucky Center on Drug and Alcohol Research.
A 2012 Student Drug Use Survey conducted in the Greater Cincinnati area found the average age was 12.4 years for first use of over-the-counter drugs not intended for them and 12.9 years for prescription drugs.
“These are very worrying statistics,” said Karen Kelly, director of Operation UNITE. “They show that all youth, whether living in urban or rural communities, are susceptible to drug use and addiction at a time they should still be enjoying their childhood.”
For more information about Operation UNITE visit their website at www.operationunite.org.