Northern KY sees success in reducing heroin deaths

By May 19, 2015 June 13th, 2017 Addiction News

Fewer people died from heroin overdose in 2014 than in the previous year in some Northern KY counties, where the heroin epidemic is hitting communities the hardest. This comes as encouraging news for a region desperate for effective solutions to a drug problem that has seemed only to worsen in recent years. While the decrease in heroin deaths in some counties may be small, it could be a sign that prevention and treatment strategies are finally starting to reverse the epidemic.

Figures reported by the Kentucky Medical Examiner showed heroin overdose deaths decreased from 2013-2014 in Kenton County and Boone County, with a combined 45 deaths in 2014—that’s 11 fewer than 2013’s total of 56 heroin deaths between the two counties.

On top of current efforts to prevent heroin deaths in these counties, jails in Kenton and Campbell County will reportedly provide more evidence-based substance abuse treatment in planned expansions to their facilities. Because many users inevitably pass through the county jails, this could further reduce the number of heroin overdose cases in the affected counties.

Heroin deaths increase in some areas, health organizations struggling to keep up

Although the overdose numbers are improving in these few counties, that’s not necessarily the case across the state. In fact, the total number of heroin overdose deaths reported by the Kentucky Medical Examiner was slightly higher in 2014 than the previous year. Campbell County, for example, had three more cases in the latest year, although taken together, Campbell and Kenton County’s total deaths decreased. Health officials in counties where overdose cases are up may look for solutions in the examples of counties in which efforts are proving more successful.

Local heath providers are doing their best to treat substance abuse and overdose victims and keep the number of drug-related deaths down. St. Elizabeth HealthCare hospitals saved 122 people from heroin overdose in March 2015, according to the Enquirer’s reporting. St. Elizabeth will also be opening a medication-assisted treatment clinic, where those suffering from heroin and opiate abuse may be treated with drugs such as Suboxone.

It’s clear that the more resources put into the fight against heroin addiction in Kentucky, the fewer people will suffer from the effects of substance abuse, including death from overdose. This means that we need more education about the risks of addiction and the dangers of overdose, more prevention efforts, more treatment options, and more aftercare programs to help people stay away from the drugs they once abused.

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