Office of Drug Control Policy head says combating growing opiate addiction problem requires action on numerous fronts

07/03/2016 09:08 AM

FRANKFORT — With a 16 percent increase in drug overdose deaths reported in 2015, Kentucky’s opiate addiction epidemic continues to grow.

While there have been numerous attempts to curtail opiate addiction in the state, the numbers keep going up, and Van Ingram, director of the Office of Drug Control Policy,
says that each opiate overdose death is tragic and affects more than just the addict.

“We’ve had 1,248 overdose deaths in Kentucky last year,” Ingram said. “That’s 1,248 families that lost a mother, a brother, a sister, a father, a son, a child. It’s devastating, it’s preventable, it’s senseless, and it just breaks your heart.”

Ingram said that his agency has made some inroads in battling drug addiction by curtailing the prescription pill addiction, but the explosion of heroin being mixed with fentanyl, an opiate painkiller, is leading to deadly results.

“Fentanyl is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin, so it takes just a very small amount to satisfy the cravings of an addicted person,” Ingram said.

Ingram believes that there are multiple layers to battling opiate addiction including the recognition that addiction is a disease and, in many cases, needs to be treated for life.

Click here for more information on opiate addiction in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

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