Spike in heroin deaths forces city to address problem

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - He calls it a deadly problem that has to be addressed immediately. The Fayette County Coroner says already this year, nine people have died of heroin overdoses in Lexington. So now, Lexington's leaders are working together to stop it.

"Our numbers are significantly up just for this year," explains Fayette County Coroner Gary Ginn, "it's a very harsh drug on your system, it's a respiratory depressant, and that's usually how the person dies."

Ginn is part of a city-wide task force trying to find a way to stop a growing addiction.

"I look at it as kinda playing Russian roulette. You're sticking a syringe in your veins or you're sticking a gun to your head and you don't know what's going to happen. The strength is something that's just unknown to the user."

The group is made up of city leaders like Ginn, both the city police and fire chiefs, and the mayor - all of them having to deal with the effects of the drug on addicts in Lexington.

"Now that the prescription pipelines, some of them are being closed down, the prescription drugs, just one pill alone is very costly. So people are going to go to alternatives, and the alternative is heroin. It's pretty cheap and it's pretty easy to get," notes Ginn.

Mayor Jim Gray released a statement late Friday afternoon to address the task force:

"Earlier today Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason and Police Chief Ronnie Bastin convened a broad-based group of law enforcement, social services and medical experts to examine enforcement and treatment solutions and to analyze trends. We’re working together to arrest dealers, increase public awareness of the dangers and focus on treatment options.”

For anyone struggling with addiction and looking for help, Ginn recommends calling one of the following Lexington organizations.

Men's Hope Center #859.252.7881
Women's Hope Center #859.252.2002

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