A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky, 26th in population among states, ranked fourth in number of drug overdose deaths in 2017

Kentucky had the fourth highest rate of drug overdoses among the states in 2017, fifth when the District of Columbia is added to the list, according to a new report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Kentucky had 37.2 overdose deaths per 100,000 people. West Virginia had the highest rate, 57.8, and Ohio was second with 46.3. Pennsylvania and D.C. were close behind at 44.3 and 44, respectively.

Pennsylvania, the largest of those states, had the most overdose deaths, 5,388. Ohio was second with 5,111 and Florida, the third most populous state, was close behind with 5,088. Kentucky had 1,566 deaths, the 15th largest number, and West Virginia had 974. Those two states are 26th and 38th in population.

“The national report echoes many trends found in Kentucky’s annual overdose report for 2017, especially the increase in deaths due to fentanyl,” a synthetic opioid that can be 50 times more potent than heroin, Linda Blackford reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Kentucky’s report, released in July, showed an 11.5 percent increase in drug-overdose deaths from 2016, with more than half from fentanyl. The number of heroin deaths decreased, but overdose deaths from methamphetamine surged, with meth being found in 29 percent of cases.

“Unlike opioid use, meth addiction cannot be addressed with medication-assisted treatments, such as buprenorphine,” Blackford notes.

From Kentucky Health News

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