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Heroin Abuse Impacting More Kentucky Families, Poll Says

Flickr/Creative Commons/Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

An increased number of Kentuckians are affected by heroin abuse, according to a Kentucky Health Issues Poll released this week.

The poll asked adult Kentucky residents about the influence of drug misuse on their family members and friends.

It found 13 percent of Kentucky adults have a family member or friend who’s experienced issues because of using heroin. In 2013, only 9 percent of respondents answered yes to the same question.

The poll was produced by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky and Interact for Health, formerly the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati.

In 2012, state lawmakers passed legislation to address so-called pill mills. Last year, state officials said the “pill-mill bill” had been effective in reducing prescription drug abuse.

But heroin abuse in Kentucky has increased in recent years. Last year, the General Assembly approved a bill meant to address heroin abuse, stiffening penalties for dealers and allowing local governments to establish syringe-exchange programs.

Northern Kentucky has reported some of the state’s worst heroin abuse issues.  The poll released this week showed that 35 percent of respondents in Northern Kentucky knew someone who had problems due to heroin use.

In Louisville and Lexington, 17 percent and 14 percent of respondents, respectively, said they knew someone who had problems due to heroin use.

The response in Eastern and Western Kentucky has remained stable compared to other parts of the state where the percentage has risen.

The poll also found that a quarter of adults aged 18 to 29 were know someone who has used heroin, more than any other age range.

Also, a quarter of the poll’s participants said they knew someone who has misused OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, or codeine.

Western Kentucky adults were less likely than the rest of the state to know someone who has misused prescription drug, at 16 percent. Adults in Northern Kentucky were most likely to know someone who’s misused prescription drugs at 33 percent.

Since 2014, the percentage of adults who reported prescription pill abuse has risen from 20 percent to  27 percent in the Louisville area, but it has remained steady in other regions.

White adults were three times more likely than African-American adults to report knowing someone who had problems due to prescription drug abuse.

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