A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Registration now open for Oct. 11 conference in Grand Rivers on substance abuse, addiction

The Kentucky Rural Health Association is hosting the Western Kentucky Regional Community Education Day, designed to educate and stimulate community discussion around substance abuse and addiction. This year’s event is titled, “The Addiction & Substance Abuse Communities at a Crossroad.” Attendance is free, but registration is required. The conference will run from 9 a.m. to 3...

Owensboro residents discuss meth at community forum; police say they’re losing battle with drug

The methamphetamine problem is so bad in Owensboro that the city commissioner hosted a community forum to discuss it, Katie Pickens reports for the Owensboro Times. “This issue affects almost everyone in this community,” Commissioner Larry Conder told a crowd of more than 100 at the Sept. 10 forum. Methamphetamine is also called meth, crystal, chalk and ice, among other things. It is an extremely...

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...

KSP introduces new mobile drug education trailer to inform public about effects of substance abuse

The Kentucky State Police have introduced a new mobile substance abuse education exhibit designed to help inform the public about the devastating effects of substance abuse. The 30-foot trailer features 14 flat screen monitors and one touch-screen monitor that present video messages about meth, heroin, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco. The videos include actual meth users who tell their real-life stories...

Centers for Disease Control study shows state has high rate of addicted mothers — and it’s rising

By Melissa Patrick and Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky has had a very high rate of opioid-use disorder among women delivering babies in hospitals, according to a study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Kentucky, 19.3 mothers out of every 1,000 who gave birth in a hospital in 2014 had an opioid-use disorder. Among the 30 states studied, only two were ahead of Kentucky:...

Poll: 24 percent of adult Kentuckians know someone misusing prescription pain relievers

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Whether it’s the misuse of prescription pain relievers, heroin or methamphetamine, the latest Kentucky Health Issues Poll findings indicate that many Kentuckians have a drug problem. The poll, conducted Oct. 24 to Dec. 2, found that nearly one in four Kentucky adults, or 24 percent, said they knew someone who had experienced problems as a result of prescription...

National opioid epidemic fueling unprecedented levels of overdose deaths, state report shows

The nationwide opioid epidemic continued taking its lethal toll on the Commonwealth last year, driving up overdose deaths to unprecedented levels with an ever-stronger mix of fentanyl, heroin and prescription pills. According to a report released Tuesday by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, fatal overdoses totaled 1,404 in 2016, a 7.4 percent increase from the previous year. Of those cases,...

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...

Study finds young, white, lower-income men have greatest increase in heroin use, addiction

Young, white men with lower education and income levels have experienced the greatest increase in heroin use and addiction, a study has found. Men 25 to 44 accounted for the highest heroin-related death rate (13.2 per 100,000) in 2015, a 22 percent increase from the previous year, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Silvia Martins, the lead author of the new study,...

Legislative Update: Measures addressing heroin, illegal opioids highlight week of action

Headlines in recent days have made it clear that Kentucky’s problems with heroin, other illegal opioids and prescription drug abuse, continue to take lives and devastate communities at a shocking rate. In-state newspapers have recently reported the more than 52 drug overdoses occurred over a 32-hour period in Louisville, and nine overdose calls came in over 12 hours in Madison County. A national...

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...

State Health Department continues warning after 12 fatal heroin overdoses reported over weekend

The Kentucky Department for Public Health continues to warn Kentuckians about the risks associated with heroin and other drugs. DPH scheduled an emergency call last week to prepare hospitals, health departments and emergency medical personnel after receiving reports of increased overdoses linked to heroin mixed with fentanyl and other dangerous substances. At that time, public health officials requested...

Public Health Department issues warning about new supply of fentanyl-laced heroin entering state

Kentucky’s top health officials are warning state medical providers and community leaders of a pending public health crisis involving dangerous drugs. Kentucky Department for Public Health Commissioner Dr. Hiram Polk said officials wanted to issue the warning before the holiday weekend, when they expect a rise in recreational drug use. “Recent law enforcement reports cite a new supply of heroin...

Rash of heroin overdoses in region have state officials concerned drugs came from same batch

A rash of heroin overdoses reported in the last two weeks in Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio and West Virginia, has officials concerned the drugs came from the same batch, “likely mixed with either fentanyl or carfentanil,” Harrison Jacobs reports for Business Insider. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, “is 80 to 100 times as powerful as morphine and about 40 to 50 times as potent as pure heroin.” Carfentanil,...

Heroin arrests and treatment up in Appalachia, increasing threat of HIV and hepatitis C outbreaks

Partly because it’s much cheaper than pain pills, heroin is “quickly making inroads in Southern and Eastern Kentucky,” the head of an anti-drug organization told Laura Ungar of The Courier-Journal. Nancy Hale is president and CEO of Operation UNITE (Unlawful Narcotics Investigations, Treatment and Education), which serves 32 Appalachian Kentucky counties and works with law-enforcement...

Study finds no link between tighter controls on opioids and increased heroin usage

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Soon after Kentucky cracked down on “pill mills” where prescription painkillers were easily available, officials noticed a jump in heroin arrests and overdoses, and many presumed that one helped lead to the other. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found no link between the two, at least on a national scale, but some other experts...

Obama says he’ll sign Senate-approved addiction treatment bill despite lack of funding

The Senate passed and sent to President Obama on Wednesday a bill to improve treatment for heroin and prescription-drug abuse, but without the extra funding that Democrats said was needed to make it effective. The White House said Obama would sign it because “some action is better than none.” “This is a comprehensive legislative response to the prescription opioid and heroin epidemic...

Commentary: Heroin, opioid epidemic felt in practically every corner of the country

By Sen. Rand Paul Special to KyForward When I’m meeting with Kentuckians all over the Commonwealth, it is troubling how often the heroin epidemic tops the list of their communities’ most pressing issues and concerns. It is a sad reality, and one you may already know, that the heroin and opioid epidemic has caused pain for communities all over Kentucky.  And the destruction of the drug use epidemic...

Mike Denham: Fentanyl the latest battlefield added to Kentucky’s ongoing war on drugs

FRANKFORT – It has often been said that the war against illegal drugs is an ever-changing battlefield. When we seem to be making headway on one front, another tragically opens up. Over the past dozen years, those “fronts” in Kentucky have ranged from meth and synthetic drugs to prescription pain medicine and heroin. According to the annual report the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy released...

Fentanyl-related deaths on the rise; experts say many addicts aren’t aware they’re consuming the drug

A report Tuesday from the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy underscores the dangers of fentanyl, an extremely potent opioid that is leading to more overdose deaths, often because dealers mix it with heroin and sell the lethal blend to unwitting addicts. Fentanyl-related deaths have been on the rise across the country over the past year, and experts say many addicts are not aware they are consuming...