FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 15, 2023) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear released the 2022 Overdose Fatality Report stating that 2,135 Kentuckians lost their lives to a drug overdose last year. That is a decline of more than 5% compared with the previous year and is the first decline since 2018.
“Seeing a decrease in overdose deaths is encouraging, but we still have a long way to go, because one Kentucky life lost to overdose is one too many,” said Gov. Beshear. “As your Governor, I will work every day to improve access to treatment and programs to help those fighting this disease to win while also providing Kentucky’s law enforcement with more resources to get these dangerous drugs off our streets.”
The report indicates that 90% of overdose deaths involved opioids, and fentanyl continues to be the most prevalent drug contributing to those deaths, accounting for 72.5% nationwide in 2022. Potent, inexpensive methamphetamine was also a significant contributor to overdose deaths.
Recently, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the national overdose death data, which listed Kentucky as one the few states to record a decline in overdose deaths. A recent article from the Associated Press noted that Kentucky is one of only eight states that saw a significant decrease in overdose deaths last year, while the nation as a whole saw an uptick in deaths. The article notes that the decrease in overdose deaths is due to Kentucky’s intentional work to address addiction and offer more treatment services.
Since taking office, Gov. Beshear has increased the number of treatment beds in the community by 50% and secured the largest number ever of corrections-based addiction treatment beds.
“Over the past year, we have heavily focused on increasing access to clinical care for those suffering from addiction while offering more harm reduction measures,” said Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy. “These efforts have shown positive effects, but we must continue to be diligent in fighting this epidemic because it affects everyone everywhere in more ways than one.”
Overdose deaths are tracked by the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center using data from the death certificates database at the Office of Vital Statistics under the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.
Today’s news follows last week’s announcement that state inmates are securing employment and addiction treatment at record levels, which has allowed the Beshear administration to record the lowest recidivism rate in state history at 27.15%.
Before becoming Governor, Beshear was the most aggressive attorney general in the country in filing lawsuits against opioid manufacturers and distributors. Gov. Beshear has always fought to make sure the settlement funds from the lawsuits he initially filed would go directly to treatment and to those communities impacted by the opioid epidemic.
Last month, Gov. Beshear announced that Kentucky’s Counterdrug Program seized 142 pounds of fentanyl over seven months that could have caused almost certain death for more than 28.9 million people. The Governor then moved to continue the team’s work of disrupting the supply of illicit drugs in the commonwealth by signing the fiscal year 2024 State Drug Interdiction and Counterdrug Activities Plan. Support is provided to multiple state, local and federal agencies in the plan’s team, including Kentucky State Police, Kentucky National Guard, Appalachian High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Homeland Security Investigations and the Drug Enforcement Agency.
In March, Gov. Beshear announced that Kentucky is also leading the way in providing treatment services to Kentuckians through the state’s Treatment Access Program, which allows those without health insurance to enter residential treatment, and by creating Recovery Ready Communities, expanding health care coverage and increasing treatment beds.
This year, the Governor also signed legislation that supports recovery housing by setting requirements for certification, operation and oversight of these residences and legislation that ensures direct payments from health insurance providers to the facilities providing care.
Last year, Gov. Beshear announced a new searchable website to help people in recovery find housing, FindRecoveryHousingNowKY.org.
If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call the KY HELP Statewide Call Center at 8338-KY-HELP (833-859-4357) to speak one-on-one with a specialist who can connect Kentuckians to treatment resources. Visit findhelpnowky.org to find information about available space in treatment programs and providers based on location, facility type and category of treatment needed.
Visit the Kentucky State Police website to find one of 16 posts where those suffering from addiction can be paired with a local officer who will assist with locating an appropriate treatment program. The Angel Initiative is completely voluntary, and individuals will not be arrested or charged with any violations if they agree to participate in treatment.