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Health and Welfare

Kentucky Sees Significant Increase In Drug Overdose Deaths And Fentanyl-Involved Deaths

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Ohio Valley ReSource
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Kentucky drug overdose deaths increased by 48% from 2019 to 2020. That’s according to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center which released 2020 drug overdose data earlier in April.

The report indicated that overdose deaths in 2020 totaled 1,958 people in Kentucky. 

Experts say fentanyl is the most common drug involved in fatal overdoses while methamphetamine is the second most common.

Meghan Steel an epidemiologist with the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center said overdoses often involve a combination of both drugs. 

“We can see that deaths involving fentanyl and methamphetamine together are the fastest growing combination of drugs identified by Kentucky coroners,” Steel said.

Most overdose deaths in the Commonwealth were concentrated in Madison, Clark and Estill Counties.

Steel said a majority of Kentucky counties recorded overdose death increases in 2020. 

“But no region of Kentucky appears immune from the effects that caused this increase,” she explained. “While Western Kentucky continues to experience the lowest rates of drug overdose deaths among its residents, even those counties saw a slight rise in the rates of drug overdose deaths.”

According to Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center data, fentanyl-involved overdoses accounted for the majority of deaths and increased by 85% in 2020 compared to 2019. Most overdose deaths occur in people between ages 35 and 44.

Steel said further investigation is needed to determine how much of the increase in fatal overdoses were due to COVID-19 and the effects of social distancing.

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