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Listen: UK CDAR director discusses Kentucky's opioid epidemic

Dr. Michelle Lofwall (left) and Dr. Sharon Walsh (right)
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/ by UK HealthCare

Drug addiction runs rampant in this nation: It is estimated that more than 70,000 people died from drug overdoses in 2017, and many of these deaths were due to opioid abuse.

To put it in more relatable numbers, the United States suffered more deaths to drug abuse last year than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in the Vietnam War. Or, put another way, roughly 200 deaths per day is the equivalent of a jumbo jet going down every 24 hours.

The problem has reached epidemic levels in Kentucky, where heroin and fentanyl abuse ravage communities. On this week’s episode of "Behind the Blue," Sharon Walsh, director of the UK Center on Drug and Alcohol Research and a distinguished professor in the UK College of Medicine, discusses the challenges Kentucky faces in battling the opioid epidemic.

That question – what do we do? – was the basis of a daylong meeting Walsh had with the UK Board of Trustees in October. As part of its annual retreat this year, UK President Eli Capilouto and Walsh framed an entire day of discussion and presentations around the opioid epidemic in the country and its specific impact on Kentucky.

The discussion centered on how UK – along with partners at the state and federal levels – is positioning itself to stem the tide of drug addiction and abuse in the state and beyond.

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