- Associated Press - Monday, February 13, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A new advertising campaign is seeking to raise awareness of the dangers of opioid abuse before it becomes a major public health crisis in Nebraska.

The statewide campaign announced Monday includes public service advertisements in radio and television outlets and newspapers, collectively dubbed “Dose of Reality: Prevent Prescription Painkiller Abuse in Nebraska.”

Attorney General Doug Peterson said the campaign is a pre-emptive effort to keep Nebraska from experiencing the same problems as Ohio, New Hampshire and other states where opioid abuse has become an epidemic. Peterson said Nebraska has not yet reached a “crisis point,” but the public should still be concerned and agencies need to work together to address it.

“This is really a very, very important challenge for the state of Nebraska,” he said at a news conference to announce the campaign.

Prescription drug deaths in Nebraska increased from 2.4 to three per 100,000 people per year between 2005 and 2015, said Gov. Pete Ricketts. Ricketts said state officials want to make sure the public is educated about the problem.

“We want to make sure that we get out in front of this,” Ricketts said.

Between 1999 and 2013, the number of prescriptions written nationally has quadrupled, Ricketts said. Nebraska had 149 drug overdoses in 2015, and 54 of those were related to opioid abuse, he said.

The partnership that launched the campaign includes state and federal officials as well as the Nebraska Broadcasters Association and the Nebraska Press Association.

Nebraska launched a prescription drug monitoring program on Jan. 1. The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has received roughly $3.5 million in federal money to pay for the program.

The Nebraska Broadcasters Association has agreed to provide $312,000 worth of messages that will air statewide over the next year. The Nebraska Press Association has said it will urge members to engage in the public information efforts.

State officials have already hosted summits on opioid abuse that included the University of Nebraska Medical Center, state agencies and the U.S. attorney’s office.

“We’re at a point right now where if we’re smart about how we do this, we can be effective in protecting the good life in Nebraska,” Peterson said.


Online: www.doseofreality.nebraska.gov/

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