‘The devil has a grip on them:’ Report shows Ky. overdose deaths increased by 49% last year

Published: Aug. 4, 2021 at 4:23 PM EDT
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LONDON, Ky. (WKYT) - The 911 call center inside the London State Police Post has been getting a lot of overdose calls, the most common type of call as of late, especially in the year 2020.

“They have chosen to put something in their body. Knowing it could be the one that kill them. They know it’s killed their best friend,” Trooper Scottie Pennington said.

Almost 2,000 people died of overdoses in 2020, according to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. That’s 49% more than in 2019.

“You know that’s 2,000 families. That number gets higher. People love those people. They have an addiction. They can’t overcome. The devil has a grip on them,” Trooper Pennington said.

State Office of Drug Control Policy officials say the pandemic was a major contributing factor including the interruption of routine for those in recovery, people being in isolation, economic issues, and anxiety increases.

“Absolutely we are hearing those stories over and over again. How the pandemic and the stressors increased the relapsed rate,” said Matt Brown with Addiction Recovery Care.

Brown says they have a solution, and they say it can work.

“So we have a residential program that allows for education, job training, life skills, college equivalent courses,” Brown said.

Brown says it’s getting better because people are realizing they need help and are seeking it out.

State officials say fentanyl was found in more than 70% of the people who died of overdoses.

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