Substance abuse, particularly the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, is one of the most critical public health and safety issues facing Kentucky. Over the past decade, the number of Kentuckians who die from drug overdoses has steadily climbed to more than 1,000 each year, exacting a devastating toll on families, communities, social services and economic stability and growth.
In an effort to reverse the trend, the Commonwealth has implemented a number of program and policy initiatives, including but not limited to the statewide use of prescription drug monitoring programs, expanded availability of substance abuse treatment opportunities, and the enactment of laws (House Bill 1 from the 2012 Special Session and House Bill 217 from the 2013 Regular Session) specifically addressing the availablity of prescription medications.
HB 1 mandates that the Office of Drug Control Policy, in cooperation with the Kentucky Medical Examiners Office, prepare and publish an annual public report to the Secretary of the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet to include:
- (1) The number of drug-related deaths;
- (2) The decedent's age, race, and gender but not his or her name or address;
- (3) The counties in which those deaths occurred;
- (4) The scientific, trade, or generic names of the drugs involved; and
- (5) The method by which the drugs were obtained, when available.
This report was compiled utilizing data from the Kentucky Medical Examiners Office, the Kentucky Injury Prevention & Research Council, and the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics.
Highlights of the 2014 findings include:
- Kentucky overdose fatalities increased in 2014. Overdose deaths of Kentucky residents regardless of where the death occurred and non-residents that died in Kentucky number 1087 as tabulated by June 2015, compared to 1010 overdose deaths counted in the 2013 report.*
- Autopsied overdose deaths attributed to the use of heroin stayed relatively constant from 2013 to 2014.
- Jefferson County had the most overdose deaths of any county, with 204.
- The largest increase in overdose fatalities occurred in Fayette County up 26 with 112 deaths in 2014 compared to 86 deaths in 2013. Jefferson County up 12 to 204 deaths, with Campbell, Madison and Boone County up 11 in 2014.
- The largest decrease occurred in Bell County, with 15 fewer fatalities in 2014 than 2013 (26 versus 11, respectively). Other counties with significant declines in 2014 include Daviess County (14 fewer), and Harlan County (6 fewer). Clark (10 fewer).
- Overdose deaths in some Kentucky counties, when compared by 100,000 population, 2014 data, showed high rates. The top 6 counties by overdose deaths per 100,000 people for 2014 are:
- Floyd County 55.1 per 100,000
- Pike County 50.8 per 100,000
- Campbell County 47.9 per 100,000
- Kenton County 43.3 per 100,000
- Boone County 38.00 per 100,000
- McCracken County 30.6 per 100,000
*Number of 2014 known overdose deaths as of June,
2015. A small number of overdose deaths
may still be reported for the previous year after this date. For comparison purposes, the 2012 Overdose
Fatality Report indicated 1004 deaths; by the end of 2013, the final number of
overdose deaths for 2012 was 1070.
2014- ODCP Overdose Death Report final1.pdf