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In this article we’ll cover the following:

The abuse of substances like the heroin and Fentanyl® is still one of the most critical public health and safety issues that Kentucky is facing.

Over the decade, the number of Kentuckians who died from overdoses elevated to more than 1,000 each year. This tally took a toll on communities, social services, economic stabilities and especially families.

To ease the growing trend, the Commonwealth implemented some policy initiatives and programs.

These efforts included:

  1. The implementation of statewide monitoring programs for the use of prescription drugs
  2. The expansion of treatment opportunities for substance abuse

Also, Kentucky pushed laws that address the current drug-related issues. One example is the House Bill 1.

This bill mandates that the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, with the help of the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, shall prepare and publish an annual public report to the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet. The report should state the:

  • The number of drug-related deaths
  • The decedent’s age, race, and gender. Excluding his or her name or address
  • The counties in which those deaths occurred
  • The trade, scientific, or generic names of the drugs involved
  • The method by which the drugs were obtained, when available

In line with House Bill 1, a report that used data from Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office, the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics (OVS) and the Kentucky Injury Prevention & Research Center (KIPRC) highlighted the specifics of the effects of substance abuse in Kentucky.

Highlights of the 2016 findings

  • Kentucky overdose fatalities increased in 2016. Overdose deaths reached 1,404 as reported to the Office of Vital Statistics in June 2017. This figure is regardless of where the death occurred and nonresidents who died in Kentucky. Out of those 1,404 deaths, toxicology data are available for 1,330 deaths.
  • There was a significant increase compared to 2015 report that accounted 1,248 overdose deaths.
  • The most massive demographic in overdose deaths are people who age from 35 to 44. It’s followed by ages 45 to 54.
  • Approximately 34 % of overdose deaths involved the use of heroin in 2016 according to autopsy and toxicology reports. It increased by 28% from the 2015 report.
  • Fentanyl®, either combined with heroin or used alone, was involved in 623 overdose deaths. The numbers increased from 34% compared to 2015 report. This year’s Fentanyl® abuse is responsible for the 47% of all deaths.
  • With 364 fatalities, Jefferson County had the most deaths due to drug overdoses. The tally increased from 268 in the 2015 report, and its increase costs 98 lives. This county has the most significant growth in overdose fatalities among all counties.

On the other hand, Kenton County has the highest decrease in overdose deaths. It had 22 fewer fatalities in 2016 compared to 2015. Other counties with essential declines include Bell County. It decreased by 10. Also, Knox County declined by 8.

2016 Autopsy reports by the Kentucky Medical Examiner’s Office and toxicology submitted by coroners indicate that:

Morphine was the most common controlled substance in overdose deaths. It was present in about 45% of all cases. When metabolized, Heroin shows as Morphine in toxicology results.

On the other hand, Fentanyl® was detected in approximately 47% of cases. There was also 6-Monoacetylmorphine (heroin) at 34%. Alprazolam is at 26%. Oxycodone is at 19% (a 4 percent decline), and Hydrocodone at 16% (a 5 percent decline).

The top 5 counties with heroin-related overdose deaths:

  • Jefferson County 122
  • Fayette County 48
  • Kenton County 20
  • Campbell County 17
  • Boone County 12

The top 5 counties with overdose deaths per capita:

  • Leslie County 66.25
  • Bell County 58.53
  • Powell County 56.51
  • Gallatin County 56.19
  • Campbell County 52.05

The top 5 counties for Fentanyl®-related deaths:

  • Jefferson County 182
  • Fayette County 59
  • Kenton County 26
  • Boone County 25
  • Campbell County 21

The top 5 counties for deaths related to heroin and Fentanyl® in combination:

  • Jefferson County 59
  • Campbell County 21
  • Fayette County 20
  • Boone County 12
  • Kenton County 11

The findings show that increased rates are prevalent over the past year. This issue calls for immediate actions, not just from the government but also from the residents.

Drug dependency is a whole new perspective. If you know someone who suffers from it, it’s never too late to discuss the problems with people who could help. There are many treatment programs available in most of the counties in Kentucky.