“A very dangerous combination”: Meth and fentanyl use in KY

The state reports fentanyl accounts for over 70% of overdoses

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The state says a dangerous drug combo has become more popular in the last year and a half. According to the Office of Drug Control Policy, fentanyl and meth are starting to be used in tandem.

“Fentanyl is just so prevalent in everything we’re seeing. You know, it’s involved in over 70% of the nation’s drug deaths and it’s been over 70% of Kentucky’s drug deaths involving fentanyl,” says Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. “We’ve never seen a number like this, we’ve never seen one drug be this prevalent in deaths as fentanyl is.”

Nurses say fentanyl is usually used in hospitals to relax patients and help put them to sleep, but the state warns the fentanyl being used on the street is not pharmaceutical level. The state says street-level fentanyl is being used to cut certain drugs and even being made to look like other pills like Xanax.

Fentanyl is considered a ‘downer’. When used in conjunction with a drug that gives you a high, an ‘upper’, like meth, some nurses say could result in your respiratory system giving out. The state says some people are using fentanyl and then using drugs like meth to wake back up.

“A number of overdose deaths here in Kentucky with that combination in the bloodstream, both fentanyl and methamphetamine, both present at the time of death,” says Ingram.

“I never dreamed that it would be on the street, it’s not a street-safe drug at all,” says Kelly Slone, a registered nurse and the president of Kingdom Mission Outreach.

Since the onset of the pandemic, some health experts say that it’s not just depression and anxiety on the rise but also drug and alcohol use.

“Almost all problems are handled with poor coping mechanisms,” says Slone. “People who are raised healthy get good coping skills, people who struggle or have tough lives, their coping skills end up being alcohol, smoking, drinking, drugs.”

Graph

Data from Madison County Sheriff’s Office. Possession cases per year as follows: 2017-180; 2018-208; 2019-238; 2020-275; 2021-366

In Madison County, the sheriff’s office has seen a rise in possession cases over the last 5 years, more than doubling in total from 2017 to 2021.

“It’s daily that it seems like we’re arresting people with heroin and meth,” says Deputy Michael Stotts with the Madison County Sheriff’s Office.

The sheriff’s office says it’s finding that more and more drugs like meth, heroin, cocaine, even marijuana, are being cut with fentanyl.

“These drug users will get these drugs and not realize that they have something else mixed in to them which is dangerous in itself,” says Stotts.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, you can call 833-8KY-HELP or text HOPE to 96714.

You can also visit one of the websites below for more information on recovery and resources available.

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