fentanyl

Bowling Green-Warren County Drug Task Force

Eleven drug task force agencies across Kentucky are using a new hand-held device that gives them the ability to analyze drugs in the field before sending them to a lab.  

The TruNarc device uses laser technology to identify a wide range of drugs, including heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl, which can be harmful or even deadly, if absorbed through the skin or inhaled.

Tod Young is deputy director of the Bowling Green-Warren County Task Force. He said TruNarc uses a process known as Raman spectroscopy to analyze illegal drugs without having to open a packet. 

“The laser provides us with a spectrum of the molecules of the substance that we’re looking at," said Young.  "Inside the device, the computer compares the spectrum or fingerprint of what we’re looking at to a known library of substances.” 


Rebecca Kiger

A Washington Post investigation finds the Ohio Valley is suffering the most from the surge in overdose deaths due to synthetic opioids, even as deaths from other substances are falling.

The Post analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and found the region has the nation’s highest rates of death due to fentanyl.

Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia together had eight of the ten counties with the highest annual rate of synthetic opioid deaths between 2013 and 2018, according to the Washington Post’s analysis of CDC data.


hopkinsmedicine.org

A new survey by the consumer finance website WalletHub shows Kentucky ranks eighth in the nation for states with the biggest drug problem. 

 The national survey is based on metrics that include drug use, addiction, law enforcement, health services and rehabilitation.

While Kentucky ranks eighth in the nation overall for its drug problem, some categories in the survey point out the biggest drug issues in the Bluegrass State.

Mary Meehan | Ohio Valley ReSource

New federal data show the Ohio Valley again led the nation in rates of fatal drug overdoses last year.

The data confirm what local officials have reported: Synthetic opioids are fueling the increase.

West Virginia had the nation’s highest rate of fatal drug overdoses in 2017 with 57.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

Ohio had the second-highest rate with 46.3 deaths per 100,000 people. And Kentucky was fifth in the nation with a rate of at 37.2 deaths per 100,000 people.

Kentucky Law Enforcement Magazine

Kentucky’s new Commissioner for the Department of Criminal Justice Training says he’s focused on preparing new and future law enforcement officers to safely deal with the opioid crisis. Payne said officers have to be careful when handling drugs such as fentanyl because they can become ill if their skin comes in contact with the substance.

“Nowadays that mistake can kill you because of things like fentanyl. So there’s all kinds of dangers, new dangers, because of drugs that we have to prepare these young people for and that’s sad,” he said.

LRC Public Information

Doctors would only be able to prescribe three days’ worth of painkillers under a bill that passed out of a legislative committee on Wednesday.

The legislation would also increase penalties for trafficking fentanyl and other synthetic opioid drugs.

The bill comes as Louisville and other cities and counties around Kentucky are seeing surges in overdoses and deaths related to illicit drugs spiked with fentanyl and other synthetics.

Gov. Matt Bevin threw his support behind the legislation, saying he wants to enhance punishments against dealers of the synthetic drugs.

Tommy Farmer/Tennessee Bureau of Investigation/AP

Federal data suggest illegally manufactured fentanyl, a drug that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine, is behind an increase in overdose deaths.

A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that there was a 426 percent increase in seized drug products that tested positive for fentanyl from 2013 to 2014. And separate data show the number of deaths involving synthetic opioids, a class that includes fentanyl, rose 79 percent during that same period. Among 27 U.S. states analyzed, there was a strong correlation between increases in synthetic opioid deaths and in seized fentanyl products, according to data published Thursday in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

That suggests, the authors say, that fentanyl is driving the spike in overdoses. (Deaths attributed specifically to fentanyl aren't reported in national data.)

Fentanyl is available by prescription to treat severe pain. But the fentanyl that's currently on the streets — usually mixed into heroin and often without the user's knowledge — isn't from diverted pharmaceutical products. Instead it's being illicitly manufactured, according to the government.

Creative Commons

The number of overdose deaths in Kentucky continues to rise and a new report shows it’s largely due to a powerful opioid drug that dealers are secretly mixing with heroin.

Over the past year, more drug dealers have been lacing heroin with fentanyl, an opioid that the Drug Enforcement Administration says is 30 to 50 times more powerful than heroin alone.

The results of this are evident in the state Office of Drug Control Policy’s latest report, which found that there were nearly 300 more fentanyl-related overdoses last year than in 2014.

Director Van Ingram said many overdoses happen because users don’t realize they aren’t taking pure heroin.

“Often people are buying what they think is heroin, which is heroin mixed with fentanyl or just fentanyl itself in a powdered form,” said Ingram.