Drug and Alcohol Abuse in Kentucky – Substance Abuse Trends

Overdose fatalities have increased across the United States in the past decade. Every state has significant problems with alcohol and illicit drugs. Individual state statistics illustrate a not-so-pretty picture – one that law enforcement agencies, health professionals, and treatment providers must pay attention to if they hope to make a significant difference for addicted Americans.

Kentucky has felt the sting of overdose deaths, and the other ramifications of substance abuse, more than many states. The Lexington Herald – Leader reports that in 2015 Kentucky overdose deaths were at a record level. In some areas, overdoses killed as many as 200 people during 2014 through 2015. Fentanyl is responsible for many of the overdoses, and the Herald-Leader article speculates Fentanyl deaths will increase as autopsy and toxicology reports become more available across the state.

Fentanyl is a dangerous and ever-worsening problem for Kentucky, in part because Fentanyl is a legal drug. It is often prescribed to help patients coping with severe or chronic pain. It’s also manufactured in criminal labs, and many of its sellers are local or foreign drug cartels. Fentanyl is commonly mixed with heroin and is about 50 times more powerful than the street version of that drug, and 100 times more potent than morphine. Dosages are extremely hard to control because many users don’t know they’ve taken Fentanyl until they are already overdosing. By the end of 2015, the number of Fentanyl-related deaths in Kentucky had jumped from 121 to 420. Fentanyl has often laced heroin or was mixed with it to make the heroin more potent.

Along with Fentanyl, methamphetamines are listed as Kentucky’s largest emerging drug threat. The amount of locally produced meth is eclipsing what can be produced in Mexico, making it more readily available to Kentucky users, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Both Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) and local independent dealers are involved in meth production and trafficking. Meth has become one of the hardest drugs for law enforcement to trace, investigate, and curtail. Methamphetamine sales are steadily increasing in the Ohio River Valley.

Marijuana is another big problem for Kentucky, as it is for several other states. Most of Kentucky’s marijuana is exported to other areas, such as Illinois, Ohio, and Washington, D.C. Kentucky also has some of the best opportunities for marijuana cultivation; some growers even use government lands like the Daniel Boone National Forest for their enterprises.

Cocaine follows right behind marijuana on Kentucky’s most threatening substances list. Small communities of eastern Kentucky are ideal for cocaine trafficking due to their rural locations. Indeed, Kentucky’s rural areas are often ideal for drug cultivation, trafficking, or selling because of their remoteness.

Shortfalls in Kentucky Substance Abuse Care

The explosion of some drugs, such as methamphetamines, has outstripped law enforcement’s ability to keep up with investigations and punitive actions. Kentucky has funneled more of its state and federal grant management toward substance abuse, but with mixed results. As of March 2015, Kentucky was one of a few states with a Good Samaritan law on the books, which protects addicts seeking medical help, as well as loved ones who might seek such help for them. Initial reports on the law’s impact indicated addicts and their families still were not reaching out for medical treatment in the event of overdoses. As of 2017, there has not been an overwhelmingly positive response to the Good Samaritan law.

The Kentucky Agency for Substance Abuse Policy, or KY-ASAP, has also attempted to eliminate substance abuse in the state. The problem with boards like KY-ASA is that they develop their own initiatives and oversee their own funding. This allows the state more freedom to focus on the substances that are Kentucky’s biggest threats, but may also keep them from embracing nationwide philosophies that might work for their addicted population. Additionally, state and federal philosophies tend to become tangled in each other. For example, the KY-ASAP incorporates the same three-pronged prevention approach the Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) uses. At the same time, though, the board tries to oversee its own initiatives and campaigns, sometimes aimed at drugs that are not a threat to a particular Kentucky area.

The KY-ASAP’s overall structure poses another problem for those seeking to help addicts. It is made up of regional and single county boards, but only 17 of the 79 existing boards are regional. The other 62 are single county boards, so their focus naturally tends to be narrower. Furthermore, single county boards are usually concentrated in highly populated counties, leaving smaller areas without adequate treatment access. For most counties with their own boards, KY-ASAP funds are the only source for substance abuse prevention. Depending on the economic outlook of a certain county, those funds may not be enough to make significant inroads in the fight against substance abuse.

Come to Florida for Treatment

Many Kentucky residents often find it’s best to get substance abuse treatment out of state. Unlike Kentucky, Florida does not rely on regional or single county boards for funds. Our expertise is not limited to certain substances; the professionals at The Treatment Center have worked with the drugs common to Kentucky, as well as several other types, for decades.

Florida has long been a leader in the fight against substance abuse, and The Treatment Center is the best example of that leadership. We are home to a major shipping port in Miami, making us “ground zero” for drug traffickers, dealers, and addicts. This has helped our experts glean the experience needed to help any addict recover, no matter how long or deeply entrenched the addiction. We have more funds and resources specifically for substance abuse treatment than Kentucky and many other states. Florida’s temperate climate also helps facilitate the healing process.

The Treatment Center Promises Complete Recovery

The Treatment Center prides itself on holistic substance abuse treatment. Using evidence-based medicine, we tailor plans and programs to individual clients. Each recovery plan involves treating the body, mind, and soul, using a variety of therapies. At The Treatment Center, we believe a fully recovered person is far less likely to relapse.

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