LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – Lexington has been awarded a second substantial federal grant to continue its battle against opioids and other illegal drugs, as well as overdoses.

“The impact of illegal drugs has been devastating since the pandemic, when we experienced a dramatic increase in overdose fatalities that no one could have predicted,” Mayor Linda Gorton said. “The overdose numbers have increased every year since the pandemic. More than 2,200 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021, a 14.5% increase over 2020.”

A 2020 national survey estimated that 9.6% of adults in Kentucky used an illegal drug in the previous 30 days. The survey also said 6% met the criteria for a substance use disorder in the past year.

Applying this to the population of Lexington, then 24, 525 adults have used illegal drugs in the past 30 days while 15,329 meet disorder criteria.

Lexington was previously awarded $2 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which allowed the city to continue providing naloxone to people at risk of overdose and connect them to life-saving services.

“Our first step has to be saving lives,” Gorton said. “Next comes helping with treatment. We greatly appreciate the partners who work with us, and the contributions of the members of the Mayor’s Substance Use Disorder Advisory Council, who are we are helping us administer the grant funding.”

The new grant will allow Lexington to continue its “Leave Behind Program”. This program allows Lexington Fire Department members to follow up with overdose survivors.

“We have a city full of people who have dedicated their lives to this, and we are in a good space to move forward and I am glad the federal government agreed with that,” substance abuse intervention program coordinator Amy Baker said.

Lexington police will also have naloxone provided to carry in their cruisers as a result of the grant.

According to the city of Lexington, police reportedly distributed around 150 doses of naloxone per year.