ATLANTA, GA – U.S. Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (KY-05) and Governor Nathan Deal (R-GA) joined several state and national leaders at the Georgia Capitol on Thursday, January 23, to announce that the 2014 National Rx Drug Abuse Summit will be hosted in Atlanta, Georgia.

This Summit is the largest national collaboration of professionals on the prescription drug abuse issue and will be held April 22-24, 2014, at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing issue in the nation and in Georgia. Since I took office, I have worked with the General Assembly to combat this issue through several measures, including the passage of the Georgia Pain Management Clinic Act last year,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “We have made progress, but there is still much to be done. We as a state look forward to hosting the Summit and bringing together experts to discuss new ways to combat abuse.”

Someone dies every 16 minutes from a prescription drug overdose, making it the leading cause of accidental deaths in the United States.

“After Florida passed legislation in 2011 cracking down on pill mills, drug dealers moved up Interstate 75 and opened up shop in Georgia. It was imperative that we put a law in place to address the onslaught,” said Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens. “Last year, I was proud to work with the Governor and the General Assembly on legislation to protect our communities and put these bad actors out of business.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has categorized the high rate of prescription drug abuse deaths as a national epidemic.

“Like Kentucky, Georgia has been heavily impacted by pill mills and drug dealers and drug seekers along I-75 and across state lines. We have to work together to help save lives and curb this tide of abuse that plagues our nation,” said Congressman Hal Rogers, co-founder of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Prescription Drug Abuse Caucus. “The Summit takes a holistic approach to the drug abuse epidemic, bringing together legislators, law enforcement, medical professionals, advocates, educators and many other leaders to focus on real solutions.”

Congressman Rogers announced Matthew Perry – an American-Canadian actor/director/producer acclaimed for his role as Chandler Bing on the most successful television shows of all time, Friends – along with his friend, addictions and recovery expert Earl Hightower – will serve as two of the keynote presenters this year. Perry is returning to TV this fall as Oscar Madison on a modern remake of “The Odd Couple” for CBS.

Perry, 44, who is in long-term recovery from prescription drug addiction, is a tireless advocate for Drug Courts and other interventions for those in need of substance abuse treatment. Perry and Hightower were recently honored with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy’s “Champion of Recovery” award for their work to help addicts.

No one understands the prescription drug abuse epidemic as intimately as those families who have lost a loved one to the overwhelming clutch of addiction. Gainesville resident, Dallas Gay lost his 21-year-old grandson to a prescription drug overdose. Now, he’s the Co-Chairman of the Medical Association of Georgia Foundation’s “Think About It” campaign.

“I’m here to help the other Jefferies who are out there who could follow his same fate,” said Mr. Gay. “We’re losing too many young people to these deadly cocktails of prescription drugs and alcohol. This is a problem that our society has created, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Working together, we will make a difference.”

The CDC has been an active partner and supporter of the Summit for the last two years. The federal agency’s Director, Dr. Thomas R. Frieden will also be a keynote speaker at the 2014 event.

“CDC arms states with the resources, information and expertise to respond quickly and effectively and reverse this epidemic,” said Dr. Frieden. “We do this by equipping states including Kentucky and Georgia with the data, evidence and programs they need to maximize every resource.”

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) – a regional economic development agency comprising all or parts of 13 states, including north Georgia – has served as the Summit’s Education Partner since inception.

“At ARC we understand all too well the devastating impact substance abuse is having on Appalachia’s population and work force,” said Earl Gohl, Federal Co-Chair of the ARC. “It tears families apart, drains community resources, and holds back economic development. That is why we are a strong supporter of this Summit’s goal of educating people about drug abuse and preventing it in the first place. Appalachia’s most important resource is its people, and we need to do everything we can to empower them in their fight against this menace to their communities.”

Sponsors have made it possible for the Southeastern Kentucky-based non-profit organization Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education) to bring its grassroots efforts into the national spotlight.

“Because of this partnership, the Summit is able to offer participants up to 17 Continuing Education Credits across most disciplines,” said Dan Smoot, UNITE President/CEO. “The ARC is a perfect fit as prescription drug abuse is a contributing factor to poverty, workforce development and thriving communities.”

Highlights of the 2014 Summit include breakout sessions in seven Educational Tracks – Clinical, Education & Advocacy, Pharmacy, Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs), Third-Party Payer, Treatment, and Law Enforcement – tailored to provide stakeholders timely and relevant information. In addition, the summit will include a Gubernatorial Panel featuring leaders of successful prescription drug abuse prevention initiatives, a panel discussion featuring members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Vision Sessions providing an in-depth examination of innovative programs and strategies designed to educate, mitigate and resolve issues related to prescription drug abuse.