On June 4 officials with the Kentucky River District Health Department announced an overdose alert for Perry and surrounding counties. The Kentucky River District, said KRDHD officials, is experiencing a large increase in overdoses recently.
“The information that I'm getting anecdotally, is that we've seen a really big uptick in overdoses, so we're trying to educate,” said Scott Lockard, KRDHD public health director, stating that recently the health department has been receiving many reports of overdoses in Perry County, so the health department is actively trying to prepare to better help and educate the community.
“Some other parts of our state have seen an increase in the supply of counterfeit pharmaceutical pills — pills that are manufactured to look like Xanax or Lortab or something of that nature. The individuals that are selling those illicit drugs have mixed an inert substance, Fentanyl, and used these pill presses and sold them to individuals that are used to abusing Suboxone or Xanax,” he continued. “When they're used to abusing a pharmaceutical grade tablet and use these Fentanyl counterfeit tablets, they may be getting a much higher dose of an opioid or whatever in there (resulting in an overdose). We're also hearing anecdotally that there may be a different supply of drugs coming into the area besides these pressed tablets. These drugs are in our area. We should all be prepared.”
Lockard said that, because of the reported increase of overdoses, the KRDHD is preparing to treat people, trying to educate the community about substance abuse and is working on supplying more Narcan to law enforcement agencies and other organizations that may need it.
Another way KRDHD hopes to help people is by informing individuals about the Good Samaritan law, which will allow individuals who are with someone who overdoses to call EMS for help and not be charged with possession for being with the other person. Additionally, said Lockard, individuals who have substance abuse disorder should never use drugs alone and people should check on known abusers.
“People who use illicit drugs should never use alone, they should always use with someone in case an overdose occurs,” he said. “If you have a friend or family member you know is abusing or using drugs, check on them and make sure they get support.”
KRDHD Harm Reduction Specialist Brad Brewer said, “Naloxone kits are available for free at all of the local health departments in our service area.” He continued, “Knowing how to use Naloxone and keeping it within reach can save a life.”
To learn more about treatment help, said KRDHD, contact JoAnn Vanzant with Operation UNITE at, (606) 407-1360.
“We're trying to help educate, get the word out,” said Lockard. “We have so many resources in our area. Do not be fearful to ask for help.
“All life has value. We've seen so many success stories of people who have been in addiction for years and then turned their lives around, so we have to try to save everyone,” said Lockard. “Our ultimate goal is that individuals who are abusing substances and who have substance abuse disorder that we get them the help and treatment they need to get out of that lifestyle all together, but in the mean time we don't want to lose anyone to overdose.”