Ky., surrounding states continue to be at the center of the national opioid crisis

LOUISVILLE — The national opioid overdose epidemic was declared a public health emergency in 2017, and Kentucky continues to be in the spotlight of this crisis. Drug overdose (fatal and nonfatal) and drug-related crime remain prevalent across every county in Kentucky.

The preliminary numbers for overall drug overdose deaths for Kentucky residents in 2017 is 1,469. As the death toll increases, addressing the crisis becomes even more urgent.

In 2017 there were 19,960 acute drug poisoning overdoses among Kentucky residents — 1,464 in Fayette County, 591 in Boone County in Northern Kentucky, 648 in Campbell Country and 4,480 in Jefferson County. Large changes in death counts from 2015-16 included increases in Jefferson, Campbell and Hardin counties. The top five counties for drug overdose deaths are: 1. Jefferson; 2. Fayette; 3. Kenton; 4. Campbell; and 5. Boone.

Other surrounding southcentral states — including Ohio and West Virginia — are also hotbeds for opioid overdoses. Ohio is also among the top five states with 3,613 deaths in 2016. To put this in perspective compared to the rest of the United States, these three states are all in the top ten in the country in Age Adjusted Drug Overdose Morality rates.

While much of the focus is on the crisis at hand, FindHelpNowKY.org is addressing the crisis head on and providing a solution. Since its launch in early 2018, Kentucky’s newest innovative tool in the fight against addiction, FindHelpNowKY.org, has served critical, real-time information on available substance use disorder treatment options to an estimated 10,000 Kentuckians since the start of the year. It’s an unprecedented digital resource helping to address elevated drug overdose morbidity and mortality rates in the state of Kentucky. The website — which tracks current openings for 512 treatment facilities and 43 DATA waivered providers across the state — has also seen more than 37,500 total visitor sessions (25,700 unique) since January 1, indicating that many people are return users.

It acts much like a search engine, providing information on the current availability of addiction treatment resources in real-time, effectively enabling more frequent and more rapid admissions to treatment programs. Visitors can use over 30 different search criteria to find the right SUD treatment facility for your needs. FindHelpNowKY.org is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and produced by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center (KIPRC), the bona fide agent of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

“The steady surge in visitor statistics is a testament to just how important access to information is in linking individuals with substance use disorders to available treatment,” said Dr. Terry Bunn, director of KIPRC. “People who visit FindHelpNowKY.org can confidentially locate facilities and service providers — who are currently accepting new patients — based on individual determinants like geographic location, cost parameters, and the specific type of treatment required. Unlike any digital tool to come before it, FindHelpNowKY.org represents a quantum leap forward in our fight against the addiction epidemic.”

Sixty-three thousand Americans lost their lives to an overdose involving opioids in 2016 alone. Hundreds of thousands of family members are left to pick up the pieces of those lives lost, when every one of these deaths was preventable. FindHelpNowKY.org, Kentucky’s newest innovative tool in the fight against addiction, is helping to bridge this gap in eliminating preventable deaths.

The Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center is a bona fide agent of the Kentucky Department for Public Health.