Kentucky Ranks Third in Per-Capita Drug Overdose Deaths

London, Ky. (WYMT)- Kentucky ranks third, behind the states of West Virginia and New Mexico in per-capita drug overdose mortality rates, a new study found.

The research from Trust for America's Health also found Kentucky "received nine out of 10 possible indicators of promising strategies to help curb prescription drug abuse," according to a news release about the research.

"On the flip side of that, recently it's been announced that our prescription drug use among teens has dramatically decreased," said Dan Smoot, president of Operation UNITE.

That information came from the annual Kentucky Incentives for Prevention Survey.

As a recovering addict, Operation UNITE employee Carl Varney has seen the effects of overdoses.

"At one point, I was in that mess," Varney said. "and I've had to bury some friends. I've known a lot of people who have died from overdose.

The organization hopes to lower the mortality rate by increasing education in schools, which Smoot says is already working.

Smoot also noted that people with a drug problem can take advantage of Operation UNITE's voucher program.

"If you cannot afford treatment and you live in the Fifth Congressional District, Operation UNITE will pay for you to go to treatment," Smoot said.

The only effort to curb drug abuse that the study indicated Kentucky did not do was have "good Samaritan" laws, which protect people who seek to assist those with an overdose.

Such laws have been proposed, said State Senate Judiciary Chair Whitney Westerfied. He also said such a law could be discussed in the next legislative session.

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