Year of Publication



Public Health

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)

Committee Chair

Robin Vanderpool, DrPH, CHES

Committee Member

Corrine Williams, ScD, MS

Committee Member

Katherine Eddens, PhD


Prescription Drug Abuse (PDA) has become a serious public health concern and a major epidemic in the United States (U.S.). According to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSUDH), approximately 15 million people (aged 12 or older) used prescription drugs in the past year and 6.5 million in past month. Out of these, 2 million Americans (aged 12 or older) either abused prescription drugs or were dependant on them. Almost 5% of adolescents (1.1 million) between the age group 12-17 abused prescription painkillers in 2014. Nationally, Kentucky is among the top five states with highest age-adjusted overdose death rates due to prescription pain killers, with an increase of more than 1,000 deaths per year over the past decade. Drug overdose deaths due to opioids are elevated in eastern Kentucky; specifically, the highest death rates are in Bell County, followed by Clay, Floyd, Johnson, and Knox Counties according to 2013 Kentucky Injury Prevention Research Center (KIPRC) data.

In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) funding announcement, the Bell County Health Department (BCHD) proposes to implement a community-focused school-based strategy called Life Skills Training (LST) to be implemented among youth in Bell County. LST is an evidence-based educational program specifically designed for youth/teenagers to prevent drug abuse and develop behavioral, self-management, and social skills. The classroom-based intervention will be implemented in three high schools: Bell County High School, Middlesboro High School, and Pineville High School. It will be implemented at two Levels (i.e., Level 1 in Year 1 with a total of 15 sessions and Level 2 in Year 2 with a total of 15 sessions). All project activities are coupled with an extensive evaluation plan and targeted local and state results dissemination. In sum, BCHD and its team of committed collaborators are strategically poised to make meaningful decreases in PDA among youth in Bell County and eventually across the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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