Some KY counties seeing an increase in drug overdoses, deaths

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky is seeing a surge, and it’s not just the coronavirus – it’s drug overdoses and deaths, which have been rising steadily since 2019, according to the national institute on drug abuse.

Detective Jeff Farmer with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said when the pandemic first surged, so did overdoses, but when the pandemic slowed, drug abuse did not.

“It’s just became more of an epidemic than the public realizes I think,” Farmer said.

It’s partly why the department posted a message on its Facebook page Tuesday that said its confiscated nearly 22 pounds of meth this year alone and overdoses are skyrocketing.

“Pounds are the new ounces,” Farmer said. “We have patrol men out here getting ounces and quarter pounds off of traffic stops and that was unheard of.”

Farmer said there have been about 50 overdose deaths this year compared to about 20 at this time last year.

In neighboring Woodford County, they’re seeing more of the same, but far fewer deaths.

“Here lately we’ve been having 2 or 3 a day,” EMS Director Freeman Bailey said.

That’s two to three overdoses every day compared to three or four a week during the height of the pandemic.

Bailey said despite Kentucky having a large number of treatment facilities compared to some other states, people are just nervous to go through with it.

“Some of them are scared,” Bailey said. “They’re scared to go through withdrawals because a lot of the facilities don’t have the detox centers.”

Bailey said some are just not ready to make that step, but it’s important to treat the problem, not the person.

“We’re not here to judge people,” Bailey said. “We’re here to give them help when they need it. Our job’s a little different because we’re always seeing people at their worst.”

It’s something Farmer preaches as well – having lost friends and family to addiction.

“I know that the addiction is something that is very, very hard for them to overcome and without the support from family and friends, they have to have the want to get away from it.”

Bailey and Farmer said narcan has helped in many life-or-death situations. Narcan is a nasal spray that can reverse an overdose.

To find narcan training near you, contact your local health department.

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