Melody Cashion rattles off the list of drugs she once needed just to function.

Lyrica, Gabapentin, methadone, oxycodone, valium.

There were more. But those were the every day ones.

Health care providers in Kentucky have a new tool to gauge how their prescribing patterns compare with their peers.  The state has launched a Prescriber Report Card that’s aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse.

The individualized reports are an enhancement to the state’s KASPER program-Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting.  KASPER shows all prescriptions for an individual over a specified time period, the prescriber, and the dispenser.

The current drug addiction crisis began in rural America, but it's quickly spreading to urban areas and into the African-American population in cities across the country.

"It's a frightening time," says Dr. Edwin Chapman, who specializes in drug addiction in Washington, D.C., "because the urban African-American community is dying now at a faster rate than the epidemic in the suburbs and rural areas."

There's more bad news about the nation's devastating opioid epidemic.

In just one year, overdoses from opioids jumped by about 30 percent, according to a report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

LRC Public Information

The leader of the state Senate is making no promises on whether proposals to increase the cigarette tax and create a tax on pain pills will be considered in his chamber.

On Thursday, the Republican-led state House of Representatives passed a revenue bill that would increase the cigarette tax by 50 cents per pack and create a 25-cent tax that distributors would have to pay for each dose of opioid pills sold in Kentucky.

Senate President Robert Stivers, a Republican from Manchester, said he wants to have more analysis on the issue before weighing in.

Updated on March 2 at 10:47 a.m. ET

The White House convened a summit on the opioid epidemic Thursday, where first lady Melania Trump said she is proud of the what the administration has already accomplished on the issue, but that "we all know there is much work still to be done."

Although he had not been expected to participate, President Trump briefly joined the event.

Kentucky Attorney General Sues Opioid Distributor

Feb 19, 2018

Kentucky's attorney general has filed another lawsuit against a pharmaceutical distributor linked to a pipeline inundating the state with highly addictive opioid painkillers.

Ohio-based Cardinal Health on Monday became Attorney General Andy Beshear's latest target. Based on its market share, Beshear says Cardinal Health distributed tens of millions of doses of prescription opioids in Kentucky during a yearlong period ending Jan. 31.

Ashton Marra, WVPB

The Ohio Valley’s numbers on the opioid crisis are grim, especially so in West Virginia, which has the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths.

But those numbers could give health workers the ability to identify people at risk of drug overdose and then reach them before they die.

That’s what researchers from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources were hoping for when they built a data profile from statistics on the 830 residents who fatally overdosed in 2016.

J. Tyler Franklin

After months of back and forth between Gov. Matt Bevin and Attorney General Andy Beshear on how to move forward with lawsuits against opioid distributors and manufacturers, both sides are accusing the other of stalling the process.

It began last summer when Beshear announced he would sue Endo Pharmaceuticals and McKesson Corporation for their role in the opioid epidemic. 

White House

Donald Trump told supporters on the campaign trail his plan to combat the opioid crisis. It included stopping the flow of drugs into the country, increase the penalties for drug trafficking, and make treatment more accessible.

“We will give people struggling with addiction access to the help they need,” then-candidate Trump said.

In the first year of his presidency, that plan has developed partially due to the influence of people working on solutions to the epidemic in the Ohio Valley region. But as the one-year mark for the Trump administration approaches, public health officials in the region offer a mixed view of the president’s action.

The number of drug overdose deaths in Warren County declined slightly in 2017.

Warren County saw 18 drug overdose deaths in 2017, compared to 19 in 2016.

County Coroner Kevin Kirby said toxicology reports also show an increase in people with methamphetamine in their system. Kirby said while there’s more awareness about the risk of addiction with prescription opioids, that hasn’t dramatically reduced fatal overdoses in Warren County.

Mary Meehan

Imagine living and working somewhere designed to fit a couple hundred people. Now picture that same space crammed with twice that number. Madison County, Kentucky, Jailer Doug Thomas doesn’t have to imagine it. He lives it.

“I’m doing all that I can with what I have to work with, which is not a lot,” he said. “Because we’re a 184 bed facility with almost 400 people.”

According to the Madison County jail task force, roughly 80 percent of the people incarcerated there are jailed on charges that somehow relate to addiction. County Judge Executive Reagan Taylor wants to try a different approach.

Kentucky LRC

A western Kentucky Democrat has pre-filed a bill for the 2018 legislative session to reduce the criminal penalty for drug possession. The legislation would lower the offense for first-degree possession, or personal possession, of a controlled substance from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Representative Gerald Watkins of Paducah hopes the bill will pass in the next legislative session, especially because he’s not running for re-election. The legislation would require those found guilty of drug possession to complete a treatment program and community service. Watkins said now is a good time to propose this bill because the public’s attitude toward drug crimes is changing.

Changing Course: A School Cooperative Aims To Remake Coal Communities

Nov 27, 2017
Benny Becker

Betsy Layne High School serves rural Floyd County in the eastern Kentucky town of Stanville, population 206. Students there produce a video program called “Bobcat Banter” where they usually talk about sports and student life. But early last year “Bobcat Banter” introduced some special guests.

“We’re here with Mr. and Mrs. Gates from the Gates Foundation,” the students said.

The world’s richest man and his partner in life and philanthropy, Melinda Gates, had dropped in for a chat.

Becca Schimmel

A southern Kentucky judge said the cost of incarceration is changing the way Kentucky deals with drug offenders.

Warren Circuit Court Judge Steve Wilson said he’s seen a shift in how Kentucky’s legislators view incarceration for drug crimes. He said legislators are increasingly talking to him and other judges about alternatives to jail. He said the cost of keeping people behind bars has a lot to do with that shifting mindset.