A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

McConnell announces that Kentucky to get $31.48 million, part of State Opioid Response Grants

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced Wednesday that Kentucky will receive $31.48 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of the State Opioid Response Grants Program. This program was created by the 21st Century Cures (CURES) Act that McConnell shepherded through Congress in 2016. Senator Mitch McConnell “Kentucky is leading the national...

Office of Drug Control policy report shows Ky’s overdose deaths decline for the first time in six years

By Nadia Ramlagan Public News Service For the first time since 2013, drug overdose deaths among Kentucky residents are on the decline, according to a report released by the state Office of Drug Control Policy. The 15% drop is a turning point from the more than 1,400 Kentuckians who overdosed and died in 2017. Drug overdose deaths in Kentucky decreased by 15% in 2018, yet fentanyl continues to be...

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...

Louisville health department offers test strips to safeguard drug users against fentanyl exposure

As a way to protect drug users from deadly fentanyl, Louisville’s health department has started passing out test strips, Beth Warren reports for the Louisville Courier Journal. Fentanyl was initially added to heroin, but has increasingly been hidden in many other drugs, including methamphetamine and pills that are made to look like legal ones, Warren reports. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that...

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...

Federal government approves Kentucky’s plan for innovation in Medicaid SUD services

The federal government recently approved Kentucky’s implementation plan for substance use disorder services under the 1115 waiver submission from the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS). The plan will increase Medicaid enrollees’ access to care and enhanced benefits to improve treatment and outcomes for substance use disorder (SUD). The enhanced Kentucky Medicaid SUD treatment package...

Ky leads nation in counties with local syringe exchanges, but not in most vulnerable communities

By Al Cross Kentucky Health News Kentucky has long ranked high among the states in the number of counties with local syringe-exchange programs. Now it leads the nation, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. But most of the counties deemed most vulnerable to outbreaks of HIV or hepatitis C due to intravenous drug use have not approved exchanges. Forty-five of the state’s 120...

Rural Blog: Kentucky partnership creates system to track drug overdoses, to help fight opioid epidemic

Kentucky has been hit hard by the opioid epidemic, but the state is trying to fight it with innovative efforts to gather more specific data about overdose deaths. The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, a partnership between the state Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, built a “drug-overdose fatality surveillance system” that...

Law enforcement groups tell legislative panel legalizing pot not the way to raise funds for pensions

As Kentucky lawmakers explore ways to pay for public employee pensions, a coalition of law enforcement groups say legalizing marijuana for recreational use isn’t the answer. “I’m not willing to risk my grandchildren’s health to save my pension,” Kentucky State Police Commissioner Richard W. Sanders said Thursday while testifying before the Interim Joint Committee on Veterans, Military Affairs...

Knowing naloxone administration skills can give someone another chance at life following overdose

By Dr. Raeford Brown Special to KyForward It’s a terrifying scenario that’s become all-too-real in the age of the opioid epidemic: a person lying lifeless, not breathing, because of an opioid overdose. According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, the rates of opioid overdose deaths continue to rise in Kentucky. More than 1,400 people in the state died of a drug overdose in 2016, and...

Women 25-44 driving increase in opioid-related emergency room visits, hospital stays

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News Kentucky is a national leader in yet another measurement of the painkiller epidemic: the number of opioid-related emergency-room visits and inpatient hospital stays. That was established by a study which found that the numbers are largely driven by women between 25 and 44. Kentucky ranks eighth in the rate of opioid-related emergency room visits for both men...

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,...

County Health Rankings show trend of more premature deaths, mostly fueled by drug overdoses

By Danielle Ray Kentucky Health News The premature death rate is getting worse in 44 of Kentucky’s 120 counties and improving in 12 counties, according to a health rankings report released this week. The figure is calculated using data from 1997 through 2014 and is part of the annual County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, released by the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute and...

Rural Blog: Small counties overcome opposition to start successful syringe exchange programs

Small, rural counties are leading the way in establishing syringe exchanges to prevent outbreaks of HIV and hepatitis C among intravenous drug users in Kentucky, according to a top state drug official. Van Ingram, executive director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, spoke with Mary Meehan of Ohio Valley ReSource, a regional journalism collaborative of public broadcasters in Kentucky, Ohio...

Substance use treatment services covered by Medicaid expansion up by 740 percent since 2014

Treatment services for substance use increased by 740 percent for Medicaid expansion beneficiaries over the 30 months from the beginning of 2014 through mid-2016, according to a report released Wednesday by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. The expanded Medicaid program in the Commonwealth under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) covered approximately 11,000 substance use treatment services in the...

New website designed to assist Kentuckians to find life-saving anti-overdose medication

Kentuckians who are struggling with an opioid addiction have a new website to help them buy naloxone, a life-saving medication that can reverse the effects of an overdose and offer a second chance to seek treatment. Launched Wednesday, KyStopOverdoses.ky.gov provides a map of more than 300 pharmacies across the state where people can obtain naloxone, often sold under the brand name Narcan. Visitors...

Deadline approaching to apply for grants for syringe exchanges; 17 approved, few in high-risk areas

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News The state Office of Drug Control Policy is offering competitive grants to local boards of the Agency for Substance Abuse Policy for them to use toward harm-reduction programs for 2017. The deadline to apply is Sept. 23. The grant money can be used for syringe exchanges (with some restrictions), Narcan (naloxone) programs, community education and other harm-reduction...

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,...

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...

Rural Blog: Drug firms shipping painkillers into Appalachia, closing pill mills not helping

Drug firms have been pushing prescription painkillers into pill mill pharmacies in the poorest and most rural Appalachian towns, where drug abuse and overdose death rates are among the nation’s highest. Court records unsealed this week—stemming from a 2012 lawsuit by the West Virginia attorney general—show that “prescription drug distributors shipped large quantities of oxycodone and...