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Number of drug overdose deaths increasing

By: Katie Roach Email
By: Katie Roach Email

It's a growing problem here in eastern Kentucky and across the nation that has the attention of local officials.

A new report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the number of deaths contributed to drug overdose has more than tripled in one decade..

In 2008, the CDC says prescription pain killers contributed to the deaths of 15,000 people. In 1999, that number was only 4,000, and local officials here in eastern Kentucky say the same trend is happening here.

"The amount of overdoses have increased over the years, but it has been mainly in the past four years that the numbers have drastically increased," said Whitley County Coroner Andy Croley.

"We have a real issue, and we are going to have to get this under control," said Director of Operation UNITE Karen Kelly.

But in order to address this problem, Kelly says they need to know exactly how big this problem is.

"We don't believe that all the drug overdoses are being reported," said Kelly.

She says coroners report drug overdoses on death certificates differently. Croley says many drug over doses are marked as accidental deaths and not overdoses.

That's why Operation UNITE is backing new proposed legislation that would require drug overdoses to be reported on a death certificate if it was a contributing factor.

"The problem is not going away, and we want to prevent it as much as possible so that accurate information is imperative," said Kelly.

She says information is key in fighting the battle on prescription painkillers.

The report from the CDC also says fatal overdoses are more common in men and middle-aged adults.


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