overdose deaths

51fifty / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/

Two newly released sets of government data show that the death toll from the nation’s opioid crisis may finally be dropping and also reveal the scale of the pain pill sales that help set the crisis in motion. The data for the Ohio Valley show how hard the region was hit and how hard people in these communities have been fighting to save lives.

via WWW.WARRENCOUNTYKY.GOV

A declining number of suicides and overdose deaths are two factors behind the overall drop in deaths seen in Warren County last year. The county saw 78 fewer deaths in 2018 than the year before.

Ashton Marra, courtesy WVPB

The Ohio Valley’s numbers on the opioid crisis are grim, especially so in West Virginia, which has the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths.

The epidemic of drug overdose deaths has hit home for the mayor of Nashville, Tenn. Her 22-year-old son, Max Barry, died last month of an overdose near Denver.

And for the first time since tragedy struck her family, Mayor Megan Barry spoke publicly Monday to call on families to have frank and difficult conversations about addiction.

J. Tyler Franklin | wfpl.org

A presidential commission on the opioid crisis delivered its first report last week. Among the recommendations: better sharing of data. Health researchers warn that they don’t have some information critical to addressing the deadliest drug crisis in the country’s history. Some efforts are underway in the Ohio Valley to fill some of the gaps.

Chalermchai Chamnanyon, 123rf Stock Photo

McCracken County has seen a spike in fatal drug overdoses. The Paducah Sun reports the county coroner's office says there were nine overdose deaths in 2015. In 2016, overdose fatalities in the county climbed to 15 deaths. 

Chalermchai Chamnanyon, 123rf Stock Photo

While heroin-related deaths are seeing ‘epidemic-levels’ in other parts of the Ohio Valley, Tennessee health officials say the state hit its record number of drug overdose deaths last year.

Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource

The Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy has launched a new website that helps people find the locations of pharmacies that have naloxone – a medication that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.

M, Flickr Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A drug that reverses the effects of heroin and other opioid overdoses is now available without prescription at CVS Pharmacies in Tennessee.

An eastern Kentucky man has been sentenced to life in prison for the overdose death of a woman. 

It's the first time in Kentucky that a life sentence was imposed in an overdose death involving prescription drugs. 

Fifty-five-year-old Terry Smith, of Manchester, was accused of giving oxycodone pills to Patty Smallwood in 2011.  She went to sleep and never woke up.  A toxicology report following her death showed four times the therapeutic level of the painkiller in her system. 

U.S. Attorney Kerry Harvey said the sentence should send a message to prescription drug dealers.

"They are not only putting the lives of their customers or victims at risk, but they're putting their own freedom at risk," Harvey told WKU Public Radio.

Smith ran a large-scale drug trafficking ring in eastern Kentucky.  He would recruit addicts to travel to out-of-state pill mills to obtain prescriptions painkillers.  The individual then gave the pills to Smith, who kept a portion for himself and divided the rest among the people who made the trip.

Because of Smith's criminal history, he received a mandatory life sentence under federal law.

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