A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Kentucky Attorney General defends ‘Casey’s Law’ in court as necessary tool for fighting drug epidemic

In furthering his commitment to fighting the drug epidemic, Attorney General Daniel Cameron has announced his office is defending a Kentucky law used to combat drug addiction and help individuals suffering from substance use disorders receive treatment. The Matthew Casey Wethington Act for Substance Abuse Intervention, commonly known as “Casey’s Law,” allows family members and friends to secure...

After years of steady increases, Kentucky’s overdose deaths declined in 2018; first time since 2013

Kentucky’s targeted approach to protecting its citizens from drug overdose deaths has resulted in the first decline since 2013. There were 233 fewer drug fatalities in the Commonwealth during 2018 than there were in 2017. A report released today by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy indicates lethal overdoses totaled 1,333 in 2018. That is down from an all-time high of 1,566 in 2017. The...

Ambulances report fewer calls for drug overdoses as result of access to Narcan, and increased use of meth

Your local ambulances may be getting fewer calls for drug overdoses, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that your local drug problems are decreasing. The Anderson News found that OD ambulance calls in the Central Kentucky county fell 20 percent from 2017 to 2018, from 95 to 77 — but the county’s emergency director, Bart Powell, “said he and others in emergency management attribute...

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...

Research finds nation’s opioid epidemic could be large enough to have an impact on labor force

Estimates of drug usage rates suggest the opioid epidemic could be large enough to have an impact on the labor force, say researchers from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Drug overdoses now account for more deaths in the United States than traffic deaths or suicides, and most of the increase in overdose deaths since 2010 can be attributed to opioids–a class of drugs that includes both...

Bevin, Aetna announce partnership to provide first responders in Eastern Kentucky with Narcan

First responders in eastern Kentucky will receive a fresh supply of Narcan to help prevent deaths from drug overdoses. Gov. Matt Bevin joined with executives from Aetna and local officials in Hazard to announce a partnership that will provide 360 doses of the medication, a crucial drug for saving lives. Drug overdose deaths in Kentucky have skyrocketed in recent years, and sometimes simply by coming...

Simple medication errors contribute to Kentucky’s high rate of death due to drug overdoses

By Clark Kebodeaux Special to KyForward According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky ranks third in highest rates of death due to drug overdose at 29.9 per 100,000 people. While this is primarily driven by opioid overdose via prescription or illicit drugs, this statistic represents all examples of drug overdose, including those from common medications you probably have stocked...

Drug overdose deaths now higher in rural areas than large metros; rise in opiate use to blame

Death rates from drug overdoses in rural areas have surpassed those in large metropolitan areas, reversing a historical trend, Jeanne Whalen reports for The Wall Street Journal. The main reason: the soaring rural opioid epidemic, led by an increased use of fentanyl, a cheap and easy-to-produce and easily available drug that is often mixed with heroin. Whalen writes, “Nationwide, 13,882 drug...

People in rural Appalachia more likely to die early, mainly due to greater drug overdose rates

“People in rural areas of Appalachia are more likely to die early deaths than in other parts of the country,” and a big reason is that they “die from drug overdoses at greater rates than the rest of the country,” writes Kery Murakami, the Washington, D.C., reporter for Community Newspaper Holdings Inc.’s CNHI News Service. Murakami notes that in Leslie County, Kentucky,...

Kentucky has nation’s fourth highest painkiller prescription rate, officials call for limits

Kentucky has the nation’s fourth highest rate of painkiller prescriptions, at about 130 prescriptions for every 100 people, Christine Vestal reports for Stateline. The high rate of painkiller prescriptions is being blamed on a rising rate of overdose deaths, leading health and government officials in many states to call for a limit on the number and strength of painkiller pills prescribed by...