Kentucky’s overdose fatality numbers continue skyrocketing, raising concerns


BOYD COUNTY, Ky. (WOWK) – Kentucky‘s 2020 overdose fatality numbers increased drastically last year and the Boyd County Quick Response Team said the pandemic played a huge roll.

Nearly 2,000 Kentuckians died from overdoses last year, that’s a 49 percent increase from 2019.

“People who once had jobs had purpose,” said Cody Williams, with Boyd and Greenup County’s Quick Response Team. “A lot of people returned back to use just because they were bored. They had a lot of extra free time and a lot of extra income.”

Health leaders blame opioids and Fentanyl for most of the deaths, as they make up 71 percent of all of Kentucky’s overdoses last year.

“We’ve seen the trend just continue to increase,” said Rebecca Bauder, the director of emergency services at Pathway. “One of our biggest obstacles as it is throughout the nation is Fentanyl. People don’t really know what they are taking.”

The quick response team is worried that the increase will continue this year.

“I hate to say it but I think the numbers may be a little higher,” said Sergeant Rod Williamson with the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department. “It all to me falls back to the pandemic. You get stuck in the house, you fall into depression and you need something to hold your depression. When they need something to calm it down that’s what they are looking for – the Percocet or the Oxy to try and bring them down, but then its laced with Fentanyl.”

The Boyd County Quick Response Team is one of the many organizations working to make a difference and get people help. They believe the best way of doing that is through education.

“We are helping people,” said Williamson. “But you get one person you get in recovery, and you’ve got two or three more that are falling into the lost, into the program of using the drugs.”

Williamson said they average about 5 overdoses a week in Boyd county, with around two fatalities every month.

“One thing I’ve learned is addiction, substance abuse, opioid dependency – it doesn’t discriminate,” said Williams. “It’s everywhere. It’s in the best points of Boyd County, we’ve been to the worst parts of Boyd County. We’ve been to mansions and we’ve been to tents. It’s just everywhere.”

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