KY Overdose fatalities highest among 35-44 year olds

Posted online 4/6/18

Health department offering free Narcan kits in community class

The far leading age group of overdose fatality in Kentucky is 35-44 year olds with 409 deaths in 2016, according to 2016 Overdose Fatality Report Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. Next highest at 294 deaths is 25-34 year olds and 15-24 year olds at 90 deaths.

Also stated in the report, “Autopsied and toxicology reports from coroners show that approximately 34 percent of overdose deaths involved the use of heroin in 2016, up from 28 percent in 2015.  Fentanyl, either combined with heroin or alone, was involved in 623 overdose deaths. That accounts for 47 percent of all deaths, up from 34 percent in 2015.”

The Urban League of Chicago recognized how the opioid epidemic and overdose has been portrayed as an issue exclusive to Caucasians and produced a report, “Whitewashed: The African American Opioid Epidemic”.

“The epidemic has largely been portrayed as a problem affecting young whites in suburban and rural areas. … The federal government’s response to the opioid epidemic has lacked much, if any, focus on how African Americans are impacted,” the report said.

African Americans are dying from opioid overdose at a rate higher than the general population in several states, including Illinois, Wisconsin, Missouri, Minnesota, and West Virginia, and in Washington, D.C.;  In Wisconsin and West Virginia, the African American fatal overdose rate was nearly double that of whites.

Though Blacks in Kentucky are not disproportionately affected, it can become a problem if not addressed.

The Lexington-Fayette County Health Department is hosting a free community training on naloxone, which will include providing free kits containing the overdose-reversing medication.

If given in a timely manner, the antidote can prevent deaths from overdoses due to opioid drugs, such as oxycodone or heroin. Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, blocks opiate receptors in the brain, works in 1-3 minutes and lasts 30-90 minutes.

“Ready access to naloxone at home or in the community can save lives,” said Commissioner of Health Dr. Kraig Humbaugh. “Knowing when and how to use Narcan in the event of an overdose gives people a chance for recovery in the future.”

The class is scheduled for 4:30-6 p.m. Monday, April 30 at the health department’s main building, 650 Newtown Pike. Participants must complete a 10-15-minute training to receive a free naloxone kit. The kits are only available to those 18 years of age and older. A limited number of Narcan kits will be available, so it will be on a first-come, first-served basis, with four sessions of up to 50 people per class for a total of 200 kits.

The health department provided 144 free Narcan kits during a community class in January. The kits are also available 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Fridays as part of the health department’s needle-exchange in the Dr. Rice C. Leach Community Room at 650 Newtown Pike.

The free naloxone kits are available to the community through partnerships between the health department, Drug Free Lex and the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center, part of the University of Kentucky College of Public Health, and a bona fide agent for the Kentucky Department for Public Health.

Resources for help with addiction can be found online at and

The purchase of Narcan was supported by a grant awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.