OD Death Rates 2021

Drug overdose deaths in Kentucky rose 14.6 percent in 2021, according to the Commonwealth’s annual report released Monday, June 13.

Carroll County had a rate of 111.88 per 100,00 residents (a mortality rate adjusted for age), with a total of 10 fatal overdoses. This places it at the eighth highest rate in the state, and higher than the state average.

In 2020, Carroll had six overdoses.

During his police report at the Carrollton City Council meeting on June 13, Chief of Police Mike Willhoite said the police department has “encountered a lot of fentanyl lately.” They had recently prosecuted a trafficker of fentanyl. Recent drug-related crimes can be found in sentencing and indictments on the records on page B2.

Estill County had the highest rate of overdose deaths in 2021, 148 per 100,000 residents. It was closely followed by Gallatin with 146 per 100,000 residents.

Elsewhere in the region, Trimble County had five overdose deaths, Henry County had six, and Owen County had less than five.

The report does not give age-adjusted rates for counties with fewer than 10 overdose deaths. It also does give a specific number for fewer than 5 overdose deaths.

“The drug epidemic is not a Kentucky issue or political issue, but a nationwide issue that is affecting everyone and every state,” Van Ingram, executive director of the state Office of Drug Control Policy, said in a news release. “Our focus over this next year will be on increasing access to clinical care for those suffering from an addiction and offering more harm reduction measures.”

The Commonwealth recorded 2,250 overdose deaths in 2021. That was up 286 deaths from 2020, where 1,964 OD deaths were reported.

Toxicology reports from the annual report show that 1,639, or 73%, of overdose deaths involved fentanyl. This was an increase of 16% from 2020. Methamphetamine was involved in 1,075 of the deaths, or around 48%.

The age group where overdoses were most common was 35 to 44, followed by 45-54.

“This problem is like a bucket with fifty holes in it,” Kentucky Senator, Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, said on Kentucky Tonight. He added that it’s a problem that must be addressed by all elements of society, not just the government.

However, progress has been made. The Commonwealth hosts more syringe exchanges than any other. "We may be ground zero for this problem, but we've been ground zero for a lot of national solutions," said Tim Robinson. Robinson is a recovering addict and CEO of Addiction Recovery Care, which is an addiction center that helps recovering addicts find careers.

House Minority Leader Joni Jenkins promoted “recovery ready communities” which was a concept put into law last year by legislatures. An advisory council is working alongside Volunteers of America to develop a program for cities and counties to put into effect. This program would offer transportation, support groups, recovering meetings, and employment services at no cost to residents seeking treatment for a drug addiction.

Governor Andy Beshear gave a statement regarding the epidemic facing Kentucky. “Here in the commonwealth, we have been fighting a long battle against the opioid epidemic. This public-health crisis has torn families apart and taken the lives of far too many Kentuckians, far too soon. Every day we must work together to fund recovery programs and treatment options so that we can continue to address this scourge and get our people the help they need.”

People who are struggling with addiction can search for treatment providers at www.findhelpnowky.org or call the KY Help Call Center at 1-833-859-4357. Resources in Carroll County include NorthKey Community Care (859-331-3292), AA and Associates (502-732-4070), Carrollton Treatment Services – NKY (502-732-3070), and Empowered Living (502-732-6420).