The number of overdose deaths related to heroin continues to climb in Kentucky.
A new report from the state’s Office of Drug Control Policy shows that while the number of total overdoses remained steady in 2013, deaths caused by heroin increased by more than 12 percent.
In 2012, 19.6 percent of drug related deaths recorded by the state were due to heroin. That number increased to 31.9 percent in 2013.
Overall, the number of drug deaths in Kentucky leveled off last year, increasing by only three from 2012.
Van Ingram, the Executive Director of Kentucky’s Office of Drug Control Policy, said one way to combat the rising number of heroin deaths would be to increase the availability of narcan, a drug used to halt the effects of opioid overdose. Narcan is currently found in emergency rooms and carried by paramedics.
“We’d like to see it in the hands of police officers, we’d like to see it in the hands of families of people who are at risk, and just as widespread as we can make it, because we can’t get people into treatment and we can’t help them turn their lives around once they’re lost,” Ingram told WKU Public Radio.
On Monday, approximately 1,000 students at Henderson County High School will hear about the consequences of prescription drug abuse. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, will speak to students.
Ingram told WKU Public Radio that an alarming number of teens have been experimenting with prescription medications in the state and region. He says that experimentation is especially dangerous because many young people are taking medications that may interact with other pills they have taken. State officials in Kentucky say autopsy results from those dying from prescription overdose frequently find that a "cocktail" mixture of pills.