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Heroin use continues to increase in Kentucky; all regions affected by opioid abuse, KHIP report shows

Heroin use has increased in Kentucky and opioid abuse remains high, according to the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll (KHIP) report, released Tuesday.

Twenty-seven percent of Kentucky adults say they know someone who has abused prescription pain medication; 17 percent know someone who is using heroin, up from 9 percent in 2013.

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) indicate that heroin use has increased sharply across the United States among men and women, most age groups, and all income levels.

KHIP is an annual poll of Kentucky adults about health issues and is funded jointly by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health.

Percent of adults by region reporting that they had family members or friends who had experienced problems as a results of using heroin.

“The country, and Kentucky in particular, are facing an opioid epidemic that is truly shocking,” said Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky President and CEO Ben Chandler. “Kentuckians are seeing friends and family members struggle with addiction, and the increase in heroin use is particularly alarming. Heroin overdose rates are climbing across the country, and Kentucky is no exception.”

According to KHIP, adults who reported that they had family members or friends who had experienced problems because of substance use span the entire state. In the eight counties comprising the Northern Kentucky region, nearly four in 10 adults reported knowing a friend or family member who had problems due to heroin, and nearly three in 10 knew someone who abused prescription pain medications.

Methamphetamines continue to plague Kentucky as well: 17 percent of adults statewide said they knew of friends or family who used them. While heroin was less of a problem in Western Kentucky, that region of the state appears to be experiencing problems with meth (21 percent of adults there knew someone with a problem) and prescription drugs (24 percent).

Opioid misuse has been a growing public health concern for some years in the United States. Kentucky’s experience with both prescription and illicit opioid abuse has been more severe and longer-lived than that of most other states.

This year, the Foundation’s Howard L. Bost Memorial Health Policy Forum will focus exclusively on the substance use crisis in Kentucky. The free public Forum will take place Monday, September 25, in Lexington, Kentucky. A registration website will be available shortly.

A copy of the KHIP poll is available here.

From Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky Communications

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