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KET’s ‘Connections with Renee Shaw’ continues focus on opioid epidemic throughout July


KET’s ‘Connections with Renee Shaw’ continues focus on opioid epidemic throughout July

For Release: 06/29/16 12:13 PM

With deaths from opioid-related illegal drugs and prescription painkillers on the rise, there’s no question both our state and our nation are in the midst of an epidemic.

KET’s Connections with Renee Shaw continues its in-depth look at the opioid issue in five new programs, on location from Washington, D.C. and Maryland, throughout the month of July. Shaw’s scheduled guests include:

  • Kimberly Johnson, Ph.D., director of the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment for the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The Center for Substance Abuse promotes community-based substance abuse treatment and recovery services for individuals and families in every community. Taped at the SAMHSA headquarters in Rockville, Md., Renee talks with Dr. Johnson about the nation’s reliance on high-powered pain killers to manage pain, addiction recovery models, drug abuse prevention and more.
    KET2: Friday, July 1 at 5/4 pm
    KET: Sunday, July 3 at 1:30/12:30 pm
  • US Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. From the USDA in Washington, DC, Renee talks with Secretary Vilsack, who discusses the White House’s response to the opioid addiction epidemic sweeping the nation, and the Obama Administration’s budget proposal to invest more than $1 billion dollars in addiction treatment. Secretary Vilsack is personally familiar with addiction as he watched his adoptive mother struggle with drug use before she eventually found a path to sobriety. He and Renee discuss the challenges of treating addicts in rural areas, the connections between poverty and addiction, drug-monitoring programs to prevent doctor shopping, and the use of technology in recovery tools.
    KET2: Friday, July 8 at 5/4 pm
    KET: Sunday, July 10 at 1:30/12:30 pm
  • Terrence Walton, chief operating officer of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals. Of the nearly 2.5 million people incarcerated in America, nearly half of them are in jail because of drug use and addiction. There are more than 3,000 drug courts across the nation to help those with substance-abuse disorders get and stay on the right side of the law. Renee talks with Terrence Walton in Baltimore, Md., about the success of drug courts in helping addicts recover and reducing crime.
    KET2: Friday, July 15 at 5/4 pm
    KET: Sunday, July 17 at 1:30/12:30 pm
  • Baltimore City Health Commissioner, emergency room physician and patient advocate Dr. Leana Wen. The author of the critically-acclaimed book When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests, Wen has given six popular TED and TEDMED talks on patient-centered care, public health leadership and healthcare reform and speaks frequently on national television about why combatting substance abuse is her top priority. Renee visits the Baltimore City Health Department to talk with Dr. Wen about the country’s struggle to manage pain, physician responsibility in prescribing powerful painkillers, harm-reduction techniques like needle exchange and the accessibility of overdose-reversal drugs.
    KET2: Friday, July 22 at 5/4 pm
    KET: Sunday, July 24 at 1:30/12:30 pm
  • Gary Tuggle, US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) special agent in charge of the Philadelphia Division. With over 30 years of law enforcement experience, Gary Tuggle, a Baltimore native, began his law enforcement career as a Baltimore City police officer. Renee catches up with him in his hometown to talk about the portals of heroin into the US, the DEA’s new strategy in addressing heroin trafficking and use, and the rise of the highly-potent opioid fentanyl that’s claiming more lives and endangering law enforcement.
    KET2: Friday, July 29 at 5/4 pm
    KET: Sunday, July 31 at 1:30/12:30 pm

These episodes of Connections with Renee Shaw are part of Inside Opioid Addiction, a new ongoing KET initiative funded in part by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The initiative website,, serves as an in-depth source of information about the epidemic and includes archived local and national programming related to opioid abuse, legislation and treatment.

Connections with Renee Shaw is a KET production, produced by Shaw.

KET is Kentucky’s largest classroom, serving more than one million people each week via television, online and mobile. Learn more about Kentucky’s preeminent public media organization on Twitter @KET and and at


Todd Piccirilli
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications