Heroin deaths up 12 percent in 2013, Office of Drug Control Policy report says

07/31/2014 03:05 PM

The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy says that the death toll attributable to heroin continues to rise in the state.

While the 2013 deaths related to overdoses stayed steady from 2012 to 2013, at just over 1,000 fatalities in both years, but more deaths are now being attributed to heroin.

“Of the 722 deaths autopsied by the Kentucky Medical Examiner last year that were determined to be from a drug overdose, 230, or 31.9 percent, were attributed to heroin, compared to 143, or 19.6 percent, in 2012.”

In 2011 only 3 percent of all overdose deaths were from heroin, the report says. The reporting requirements were made more stringent under 2012 legislation cracking down on prescription pill abuse.

Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy, said he was “encouraged” that even with increased stipulations deaths remain steady, but he said there is work to do in dealing with heroin.

“Now we need to continue defeating the problem through education, enforcement and treatment, particularly in the area of heroin use,” Ingram said.

The report said that Jefferson County had the most overdose deaths of any county, with 191 in 2013. And Fayette County had the highest increase in overdose deaths year to year with 86 deaths in 2013 compared to 74 in 2012.

The top five counties for heroin detected in overdose deaths, according to data from Kentucky Medical Examiner and coroner reports, include:

  • Jefferson County 105
  • Fayette County 35
  • Kenton County 34
  • Boone County 22
  • Campbell County 16

According to the report, morphine was the most detected controlled substance in overdose deaths, present in 43.49 percent of all autopsied cases.

“Dr. Tracey Corey, Kentucky’s chief medical examiner, noted that many of the cases reported as morphine may in fact involve heroin, as morphine is the major pharmaceutical substance detected in the blood after injection of heroin, and the other substances present in the blood indicating heroin use may have already been eliminated at the time of death.”

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