As Deaths from all Drug Overdoses Fall slightly, an Alarming Trend Emerges

After years of fighting a losing battle against prescription drug abuse, Kentucky is finally seeing a slight decline in pill overdose deaths. The problem lies in the apparent trade-off: heroin overdoses. Heroin overdose deaths more than quadrupled between 2011 and 2012. There were more deaths from heroin in the first couple of months in 2013 than all of 2012.

With prescription drugs becoming harder to procure and more expensive, addicts are turning to the cheaper high that heroin offers. The drug is popular in the city and country, among rich and poor, old and young. Heroin is easier to get and offers a bigger high. Among the states with the highest prescription drug abuse rates, heroin is a growing problem; West Virginia, New Mexico, and several others are reporting an increasing amount of heroin showing up in raids and ERs.

Authorities are pleased to see that overdose deaths are no longer increasing, but the new heroin trend is definitely not a good sign. The drug is showing up in nearly 20% of the overdose autopsies along with pills. In most cases, multiple drugs are found in the bodies of the dead.

Xanax and morphine top the list as some of the most popular prescription drugs found during the autopsies of victims, but that is not to say those are the drugs that killed them. Since other drugs are found in the system, the exact cause of death sometimes remains unknown. The youngest drug overdose victim was only 16, but fatalities range in age up to 71 years old!

The worst hit areas are in Southeast Kentucky, mainly Leslie County; a small town of less than 12,000 which boasts the highest number of pill deaths for its population. Leslie County’s drug deaths are extrapolated to amount to 85 on the per capita scale of deaths out of 100,000 residents. The poverty-stricken area reports twice the unemployment rate of the whole state and a population where the other half is not even seeking work due to a disability or advanced age.