A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Lexington symposium on Dec. 3 to highlight statewide initiatives linking employment, recovery

Kentucky’s health policy and business leaders are bringing together treatment providers and community organizations for an employment symposium on Dec. 3 at the Lyric Theater in Lexington. The Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) is coordinating the event with support from the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center and the Strategic Initiative for Transformational Employment (SITE). This symposium will...

Bevin launches ‘Hope and Help’ initiative to combat substance use disorder, provide vital resources

Gov. Matt Bevin has announced a new statewide public awareness effort to continue the Commonwealth’s historic momentum in combating the opioid epidemic. The Governor’s Office, in collaboration with the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet’s (JPSC) Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP), is launching the “Hope and Help” initiative to provide vital resources to individuals...

State’s Overdose Fatality Report has no good news; fentanyl is deadliest drug, methamphetamine surges

Illicit fentanyl, a powerful and unpredictable opioid, has inflicted another harrowing year on the Commonwealth, claiming more lives than ever before even though deaths from heroin alone have declined. According to a report released today by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, fatal overdoses totaled 1,565 in 2017, an 11.5 percent increase over the previous year. Among those cases, toxicology...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

Forum on opioid abuse hears of need for more treatment services, community education

By Melissa Patrick Kentucky Health News After a day of learning and talking about opioid prevention, treatment and mobilization, people at a forum in Corbin agreed on three things: Access to substance abuse and mental health services remains a huge barrier in southeastern Kentucky; more community education is needed; and drug-prevention programs should form coalitions to better use their limited resources. Substance...

Survey finds dramatic decrease in percentage of Ky. teens using prescription drugs illegally

The percentage of Kentucky teens using prescription drugs for off-label purposes has dropped dramatically over the past four years, a new survey has found.   The 2012 Kentucky Incentives for Prevention School Survey found that use of prescription drugs without a doctor’s specific direction to do so has decreased steadily among sixth-, eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders since 2004. The declines...

Kentuckians now have more opportunities
to safely dispose of prescription drugs

  Kentucky now has 149 permanent prescription drug disposal locations in 97 counties, creating more opportunities for residents to safely dispose of unused, unneeded or expired medications, Gov. Steve Beshear announced.   The permanent disposal boxes are monitored and are located in law enforcement buildings. Individuals can deposit their unneeded medications into the boxes with no questions...

While Kentucky overdose deaths declined last year, those attributed to heroin soared 550%

(From 2012 Overdose Fatality Report)   For the first time in a decade, Kentucky overdose deaths declined in 2012, according to a report issued by the Office of Drug Control Policy.   However, even with the overall drop, autopsied overdose deaths attributed to the use of heroin increased 550 percent over the previous year, to 143 cases, up from 22 in 2011.   Of the 1,004 overdose fatalities...