New report reveals prevalence of heroin-related overdose deaths in Kentucky

Published on February 25, 2014 at 7:04 AM · No Comments

Terry Bunn, PhD, director of KIPRC, says that the report highlights the fundamental importance of comprehensive approaches to drug abuse and treatment in the state.

"A multipronged strategy to reduce drug overdoses in the Commonwealth of Kentucky involves the basic elements of the public health model that includes the comprehensive surveillance and tracking of drug overdoses, identification of risk factors that result in drug overdoses, development of interventions to prevent drug overdoses, and the widespread adoption of drug overdose prevention interventions," she said.

The high number of pharmaceutical opioid and heroin deaths in Kentucky illustrates the need for naloxone, an opiate antidote, to be available for administration by first responders and friends and family of substance abusers in order to reduce overdose deaths. Intranasal administration of naloxone during an opiate overdose has been credited with saving countless lives.

Bunn says that the report reflects the growing need for improved education of physicians on drug abuse and treatment, better law enforcement and adjudication, and significantly increased funding and volume for substance abuse and mental health treatment services across the state in order to decrease the extraordinary toll of drug abuse on individuals, families, and communities.

She also points to the need for the state to establish a comprehensive prescription/illegal drug of abuse surveillance system that includes medical examiner, toxicology, and treatment facility data.

"It's great that we at KIPRC can provide info on three major datasets, but more are needed to obtain an even broader picture and clearer understanding of drug overdoses and abuse in Kentucky."

Source: University of Kentucky

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