FRANKFORT, KY (FOX19) - For the first time in a decade, Kentucky overdose deaths declined in 2012, according to a report issued today by the Office of Drug Control Policy.
Even with the overall drop, autopsied overdose deaths attributed to the use of heroin increased 550 percent over the previous year, to 143 cases, up from 22 in 2011.
Of the 1,004 overdose fatalities in 2012, 888 were found to be unintentional, 59 were suicides and 57 remain undetermined, according to the report.
In 2011, there were 1023 overdose deaths in Kentucky. The data, contained in the 2012 Overdose Fatality Report, was compiled from the Kentucky Medical Examiners Office, the Kentucky Injury Prevention & Research Council, and the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics.
The report was mandated under a provision in HB 1 from the 2012 Special Session.
"Obviously, we're pleased to see that we've broken the trend of steadily increasing drug overdose numbers," said Van Ingram, executive director of the Office of Drug Control Policy.
The report also reveals that overdose deaths attributed to the use of heroin accounted for nearly one-fifth -- 19.56 percent -- of all Kentucky Medical Examiner drug overdose cases in 2012. In 2011, that percentage was 3.22 percent.
Ingram added that while the increase in heroin deaths is troubling, it was not completely unexpected. Kentucky first started seeing an increase in heroin use and deaths when the formulation for Oxycontin was changed in 2010 and for Opana in 2011 to make those drugs more difficult for intravenous drug use.
The largest increase in overdose fatalities occurred in Campbell County, with 54 in 2012 compared to 25 deaths in 2011.
To view the report in its entirety, visit: http://odcp.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/C6EE39C4-E6EE-4E4B-913F-C45BD1E177AD/0/2012ODCPOverdoseDeathReportEDITS3.pdf.