LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Kentucky is one of eight states to see a predicted decline in reported drug overdose deaths.

After nearly year-over-year increases in drug-involved fatalities since 2016, with the exception of a massive decline in 2018, Kentucky is seeing a small decline in Kentucky drug deaths, according to the University of Kentucky College of Public Health.

In 2020, Kentucky saw a spike in drug overdose deaths. From January 2020 to January 2022, Kentucky went from 1,374 deaths over 12 months in 2020 to 2,380 deaths in 2022, a nearly 73% increase.

In November, large companies like Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens agreed to pay billions to resolve opioid lawsuits related to addictive painkillers.

“Walmart believes the settlement framework is in the best interest of all parties and will provide significant aid to communities across the country in the fight against the opioid crisis, with aid reaching state and local governments faster than any other nationwide opioid settlement to date,” Walmart said in a statement.

“We are pleased to resolve these longstanding claims and putting them behind us is in the best interest of all parties, as well as our customers, colleagues and shareholders,” said CVS Health’s Chief Policy Officer Thomas Moriarty in a November news release.

Kentucky is set to receive $478 million out of the $26 billion nationwide settlement. Half of the settlement’s distribution is to be determined by Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s office with local governments across the state determining the other half.

On Wednesday, a town hall meeting on the University of Kentucky campus was held where the public had a chance to weigh in on how the money could be used to best tackle opioid addiction in the state.

During the town hall, the panel mentioned there were nearly 446,000 opioid deaths from 2012-2021.

Kentucky’s battle against overdose

Dealing with overdose, saving a life

The Georgetown Police Department has issued statements telling Kentuckians to never let someone “sleep it off.”

The drug naloxone, brand name Narcan, can reverse the effect of a drug overdose. A grant released in February made the lifesaving measure more available in rural Kentucky communities.

Most health departments will give anyone over the age of 18 Narcan for free.

Symptoms of overdoes:

  • The person won’t wake up
  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Slow or no breathing
  • Blue lips or nails
  • Tiny pupils
  • Gurgling or snoring

Kentucky State Police and most police and sheriff’s offices also participate in the Operation Hope/Angel Program can help those suffering from substance or alcohol dependency.

Anyone that comes forward will not be arrested or charged with any drug violations if they participate in a treatment program. They can also safely dispose of any drugs or any paraphernalia they might have on them without being arrested.

For more on the Angel Program, click here.