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Researcher Says Kentucky Overdose Data Encouraging

Reported by: Aaron Adelson
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Updated: 2/21 6:33 pm
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AaronAdelson

Overdose deaths in Kentucky rose from the years 2000-2012 according to a University of Kentucky study, which also found heroin use on the rise.

According to the study, no Kentuckian in 2002 died from a heroin overdose. 

In 2012, almost 500 people died, but the study found the number of overdoses from all drugs barely changed from 2011 to 2012.

The state's pill mill bill cut off the supply for prescription drug abuse, but the demand stayed.  Addicts turned to heroin, because it was available and cheaper. 

Because of drug overdoses, hospitals in 2012 charged about $145 million. 

Doctor Terry Bunn says treatment would be cheaper.

"We really need to be able to get at the source of the addiction, and be able to treat these addicts," said Dr. Bunn, the Director of Kentucky's Injury Prevention and Research Center.

According to the National Alliance on Mental illness investing one dollar towards treatment saves tax payers seven dollars.

"If it was your son, or daughter would you say that it would not be worth the cost to save their life.  That's how I look at it," said Dr. Bunn.

Bunn says we need more people to have a heroin overdose reversal drug called Narcan.

While Kentucky battles heroin addiction, Bunn says many states are in the same boat.  She found the data encouraging.

"The numbers have at least leveled off now, and we hope we will see that continuing trend, if not a decrease for 2013," said Dr. Bunn.

She says having more data would help to figure out the most effective treatment options.
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