Floyd county tops per capita overdoses for the state


by Jackson Latta



ATLANTA, Ga. – Recently released data from the CDC last week confirmed a communities worst fears; that a drug epidemic strangling a region, only continues to grow.

In 2014, the five states with the highest rates of death due to drug overdose were West Virginia, New Mexico, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Ohio.

According to data provided by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy (ODCP) Floyd County continues to have devastatingly high instances of drug overdoses. The statistics show that overdose deaths in some Kentucky counties, such as Floyd and Pike, when drawn in comparison with 100,000 population showed high rates.

Floyd County was number one with 55.1 overdoses per 100,000; Pike county number two with 50.8 overdoses per 100,000.

Judge Ben Hale said that the numbers are somewhat misleading, but that the problem is still very real.

“I still don’t understand why young people would even try something so addictive,” said Hale. “It’s not like they’re not educated about it.”

Hale expresses a bafflement that many in the community share; how does this problem continue with all the effort being directed at it?

“That is the key to it. How do we break this cycle?” said Hale. “That’s what bothers me most. That cycle is not being broke with all the education, the knowledge, family and friends, and seeing these things happen, day in and day out.”

Thursa Sloan, Public Health Director for the Floyd County Health Department says that more focus on early childhood education is needed.

“Were in a cycle. That’s for sure,” said Sloan. “I think were going to have to start back with the children, and provide more educations to them on drug awareness.”

Sloan says that the community has to reinforce that drug addicted lives are not normal, or healthy, to young children. “Its not normal for mom and dad to be high every night. That’s not a normal environment. But there are children that really don’t know another side of life, because they have always lived with parents in addiction.”

Along with increased efforts in early childhood education, Sloan says that more focus must be given to recovering addicts re-entering society.

“If they go to rehab, and they come out here, where are they going to find a job,” said Sloan. “Because they’re a drug addict, and where do you have any way to transition back into society, without putting them right back into that old life.”

According to the CDC, nationwide, Opioids—mostly prescription pain relievers and heroin, are at the root of overdose deaths. CDC statists state that Opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths in 2014.

Opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 2000.

“They need to understand what this is going to do to their lives,” said Hale.

CDC provided analysis of multiple cause-of-death mortality data from the 2013-2014 years. The National Vital Statistics System to track current trends and shifting characteristics of drug overdose deaths.

Significant increases in drug overdose death rates were seen in the Northeast, Midwest and South Census Regions. States with statistically significant increases in the rate from 2013 to 2014 included Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

According to the ODCP, autopsied overdose deaths attributed to the use of heroin stayed relatively constant from 2013 to 2014.

In Kentucky, Jefferson county had the most overdose deaths of any county, with 204.

The largest increase in overdose fatalities occurred in Fayette county which was up 26 with 112 deaths in 2014 compared to 86 deaths in 2013.

by Jackson Latta

Follow on Twitter @JacksonLatta

Follow on Twitter @JacksonLatta

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