LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington Police say they believe the work they've been doing on the heroin problem has been paying off. A narcotics officer told WKYT heroin addicts are realizing that they'll die if they don't get help.
Lexington Police say so far this year, 22 people have died from heroin overdoses. The last one was on May 28. That's six fewer than the same time period last year. Heroin overdose deaths have risen dramatically over the past few years. Law enforcement officials have focused on several avenues to slow the trend.
"It's a three legged stool. Education and prevention would be one. Treatment would be another. Law enforcement, prosecution, and punishment is the third leg," said US Attorney Kerry Harvey.
Another reason the overdose deaths are down could be the use of NARCAN. Lexington Fire officials say they've seen an increase in runs involving NARCAN. That's the drug they use to treat several kinds of overdoses, including heroin. Officials say people who overdose may not have realized how strong the drug was.
"Even though you might be taking the same amount, that amount is a different strength and no one can tell you, even the dealer themselves, can't tell you the strength that it is," Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn told WKYT earlier this year.
Police say they believe heroin addicts are starting to recognize that they'll die if they don't get help. They say 90% of the treatment facility beds in the area are filled with heroin patients. They also say heroin is less available than it has been. They say fewer people are coming into Lexington to sell it and more people are leaving town to buy it.
Heroin came into the picture over the past few years after officials say prescription pills became harder to get. As they're seeing a slight decline now in heroin, they say they're also seeing an uptick in crack-cocaine use.