Friday, May 17, 2024

Early data show 7.9% fall in overdose deaths in Ky. in 2023 was much more than national drop, but number of ODs remained high

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention graph; to enlarge, click on it; to download, right-click.
By Melissa Patrick
Kentucky Health News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest provisional overdose-death data say drug-overdose deaths in Kentucky fell by 7.9 percent in 2023, more than the national decline of 3%. 

Morgan Hall, communications director for the state Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, cautioned that the CDC's numbers are predictions and are subject to change and said the state Office of Drug Control Policy will release official numbers in a couple of weeks. 

Gov. Andy Beshear said in an email provided by the cabinet, "By working together, Kentucky is making great progress in leading those with addiction to recovery. We will release the 2023 report in the next coming weeks and will not stop fighting until every life is saved." 

Predicted provisional counts represent estimates of the number of deaths, with adjustments for incomplete reporting that always occurs. 

Despite the decline in overdose deaths, the numbers remain high. 

In Kentucky, the provisional report shows that 2,125 people died from a drug overdose in 2023, down from 2,309 in 2022. Nationally, 107,543 people died from a drug overdose in 2023, down from 111,029 in 2022. 

During this same period, all but one of the seven states adjoining Kentucky saw varying declines in overdose deaths. West Virginia saw a 1.3% increase, to 1,441 overdose deaths in 2023.  

CDC graphic shows ODs by drug class; click on it for a larger version or right-click to download
Several states saw drug-overdose fatality declines of 15% or more, including Kansas (16%), Indiana (17.9%), Maine (15.9%) and Nebraska (24.7%), according to the CDC report.  

And 16 states saw increases in drug overdose deaths, with the highest increases in Alaska (44.1%), Oregon (30%), Nevada (28.9%) and Washington (27.6%).

Like the rest of the nation, most of Kentucky's 2023 overdose fatalities were linked to fentanyl and other opioids. This was followed by psychostimulants (including methamphetamine), cocaine, and natural and semi-synthetic opioids (including, methadone, oxycodone or hydrocodone). 

Kentuckians who are struggling with drug abuse or who are concerned about a family member's substance use can search for treatment providers at or contact the KY HELP Statewide Call Center at 1-8338-KY-HELP (1-833-859-4357).

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