Potent fentanyl, mixed with heroin, drives 14.7 percent increase in fatal drug overdoses in Kentucky from 2014 to 2015

The number of drug-overdose fatalities in Kentucky rose almost 15 percent in 2015, driven by a 247 percent jump in deaths involving fentanyl, a highly potent opioid that some traffickers are mixing with heroin, the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy said Tuesday.

The office counted 1,248 fatal overdoses in Kentucky last year, up 14.7 percent from the 1,088 reported in 2014. Fentanyl was a factor in more than a third: 420, up from 121.
“Heroin was detected in 28 percent of cases, consistent with the previous year,” the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet said in a press release. “However, as a total, heroin-related deaths increased in 2015, largely because the drug is being laced with fentanyl.”

“The introduction of illicit fentanyl into the heroin trade is producing devastating results,” Van Ingram, director of the office, said in the release. “Whether it’s manufactured to resemble heroin or a prescription pill, the cartels have made an already dangerous situation worse.”

Gov. Matt Bevin said, “I am heartbroken for the Commonwealth. More than three families a day are shattered by this epidemic of untimely death. This is unacceptable and will be vigorously addressed with every resource at our disposal.”

The report by Ingram’s office listed the eight counties with the most fatal overdoses per person from 2012 to 2015. All were in Eastern Kentucky or Northern Kentucky. Here are the counties, with the number of deaths per 10,000 people: Leslie, 6.86; Bell, 6.12; Gallatin, 5.26; Knott, 4.87; Wolfe, 4.83; Floyd, 4.76; Campbell, 4.72 per 100,000 and Kenton, 4.63 per 10,000.

Counties with big percentage increases in fatal overdoses from 2014 to 2015 included Bell, from 11 to 20; Boyd, from 13 to 24; Butler, from none to eight; Harlan, from six to 10; Kenton, from 71 to 112; and Rowan, from five to 12.

Counties with large decreases included Bullitt, from 22 to 11; Grant, 13 to 6; Russell, from 13 to 7; Laurel, 18 to 10; Leslie, from nine to five; McCracken, 20 to 10; and Marshall, from 12 to fewer than five. The report does not list specific numbers for a county in years when the county had fewer than five fatal overdoses.

The figures above are based on where the death occurred. Based on the residence of the overdose victim, some counties ranked higher; for example, Powell County had 5.84 overdose deaths per 10,000 people, and Russell County had 4.95. This map shows rates based on the county where the overdose victims resided; note that it shows the death rate per 100,000 people, not 10,000 (a figure closer to the population of most counties). Click on the image for a larger version.

Previous Article
Next Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *