Drug and alcohol abuse can lead to full-blown addiction. A complex behavior, addiction is diagnosed and treated as a disease. Addiction is often characterized as an uncontrollable, deep craving for alcohol and/or drugs, which is combined with addictive behaviors and compulsive drug seeking activities. The addict is often conflicted in life, with sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness.

Substance addiction has so many dimensions and it affects many aspects of a person’s life. Because it is complex, treatment is not always a one size fits all. Effective programs incorporate many components and each is directed at a particular aspect of the disease or its consequences. Addiction treatment helps the individual stop using drugs and/or alcohol and achieve a productive life, functioning at work, with family, and in society.

Kentucky is located in the eastern, south-central region of the United States. Constituted as a commonwealth state, Kentucky was the 15th state to join the Union in 1792. Known as the “Bluegrass State,” it earned its nickname because of the plentiful bluegrass found in pastures throughout the area. In addition, the city is known for horse racing, coal, bourbon distilleries, automobile manufacturing, bluegrass music and Kentucky Fried Chicken.
There are 4.4 million people living in Kentucky, which is a 2% increase from 2010 Census data. The city’s population includes 95,000 foreign-born citizens. Kentucky exports have reached $22 billion, as of 2012, and products and services from the area go to 200 different countries. The state’s unemployment rate is 4.8%, with Kentucky being noted as an affordable state in which to live. The per-capital personal income is $28,500, ranking 43rd in the nation.

Overdose fatalities in Kentucky have increased since 2000, according to a report by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy. In 2015 alone, 1,248 people died, compared to 1,071 in 2014. The largest demographic in overdose deaths is people aged 45 to 54 years. Of the overdose deaths in 2015, 420 (34%) were related to fentanyl, either alone or combined with heroin. Jefferson County had the most overdose deaths, with 268 occurring there.

A report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 35% of Kentucky high school students admitted to having at least one drink of alcohol in the last 30 days before being surveyed. Marijuana use occurred also, with 37% of students saying they used the substance one or more times during their life. Another 8% of adolescents in Kentucky admitted to using pain medicines (painkillers, pills, opiates) for non-medical purposes during the last year.

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Louisville is the largest city in the state of Kentucky, the nominal seat of Jefferson County, and the historical seat of the state. Around 750,000 people reside in the city, which is part of the Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN Metropolitan Statistical Area. Founded in 1778 by George Rogers Clark, the city is named after King Louis XVI of France. Also a founding city of the Louisville and Nashville Railroad (a 6,000 mile system across 13 states), it is home to the Kentucky Derby, Louisville Cardinals baseball team and Louisville Slugger baseball bats. The median income for a household is $39,500, with 12.4% of the population living below the poverty line. In addition, the racial makeup of Louisville Kentucky is 74% White, 22% African-American, 3% Hispanic and 1% Asian. Recently, CNN reported on Louisville’s heroin and opioid epidemic including overdose fatalities. The Mayor, Greg Fischer, reported that an additional 150 officers had been hired to work to get heroin dealers off the streets. Louisville EMS workers report that heroin overdoses have been increasing since 2014 and they average 22 overdose calls per day (33% more than in 2015). In February of 2017, there were an average of 38 overdoses each day, which was almost twice as much as January.


Consolidated with Fayette County, Lexington is the second largest city in the state of Kentucky. Called the “Horse Capital of the World,” it is in the heart of the bluegrass area. Around 315,000 people reside in the city, with another 408,000 living in the combined statistical area. Approximately 45% of Lexington, KY residents hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Known for the University of Kentucky, the population is 76% White, 15% African-American, 3% Asian and 6% Latino/Hispanic. The median family income in Lexington is $53,300 and 8% of families live below the poverty line here. Recently, Lex18 reported on EMS workers and firefighters who were dealing with overdose calls. One worker said that in 2016, there were 300 overdose cases, just in the city alone. The top Kentucky counties reporting fatal heroin overdose deaths in 2015 were Jefferson, Kenton, Fayette, Campbell and Boone.


Bowling Green
The county seat of Warren County Kentucky is Bowling Green. This town has a population of 63,600, and shares the statistical area with Glasgow (combined population of 219,000). Founded in 1798 by pioneers, the city was the capital of Confederate Kentucky during the Civil War. In 2014, Forbes magazine listed Bowling Green as one of the “Top 25 Best Places to Retire in the Nation”. The biggest employers in the area are the Commonwealth Health Corporation, the Warren County Board of Education, and Western Kentucky University. Bowling Green is known for its job growth, high income and low cost of doing business. According to the Bowling Green Daily News, heroin is a contributing factor in many Warren County overdose fatalities as of 2014. The Kentucky Health Issues Poll found that heroin use is increasing in Kentucky’s metropolitan areas and misuse of prescription painkillers is decreasing. Of the 1,600 people polled statewide, 11% reported using heroin or having friends and/or family members who had problems with the drug. This was up 2% from 2013. In addition, 24% reported that themselves or someone they know had used prescription pain medicines (Vicodin, Oxycontin, Morphine, Percacet) for non-medical purposes.


The county seat of Daviess County is Owensboro, which is located on U.S. Route 60 and 110 miles southwest of Louisville. The city of has 59,000 people but the metropolitan population is around 117,000. The top employers in Owensboro, KY are Owensboro Medical Health System, U.S. Bank Home Mortgage, Owensboro Public Schools, and Titan Contracting. In this area, 24% of households have children living in them. The racial composition is 87.5% white, 7% African-American, 1% Asian, 3% Hispanic and 0.5% other. Approximately 18% of the population live below the poverty level and the median household income here is $37,300. Methamphetamine (meth or ice) is a problem in the Owensboro area, according to a 2017 14News report. Five people were arrested for trafficking the substance this year and local officials also found many prescription RX pills and marijuana.


In Kenton County along the confluence of the Licking and Ohio rivers, Covington is a city with 41,000 people. Considered part of the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky Metropolitan Area, Covington is one of the two seats of Kenton County. Of things to note, the city has some of the least expensive real estate in Kentucky, with the median house price being around $95,000. The average family income here is $38,300 and 15.5% of families live in poverty. The top employers in Covington are St. Elizabeth Healthcare, Fidelity Investments, Covington Independent Schools and The Roman Catholic Diocese. In a recent River City News article, a report was released by the Kentucky State Police and the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force regarding 18 suspects who had charges of trafficking heroin, prescription drugs and methamphetamine in the area. Among items seized were 6 grams of meth, 3 grams of heroin, 32 marijuana plants and 10 firearms.


The county seat of Madison County, Kentucky is Richmond, named after the same-named city in Virginia. There are 33,500 people who reside here and it is home to Eastern Kentucky University. Considered part of the Richmond-Berea Micropolitan Area, the city is the third largest bluegrass region city. In the late 1900s and early 2000s, Richmond, Kentucky had a residential and commercial boom. According to a report by CHNI News, the Bluegrass State had 177 more overdose fatalities in 2015 than the previous year. In 2015, there were 1,248 fatal overdoses in the state. Madison County had the 6th most overdose deaths in Kentucky, with 87 deaths in 2015 alone. Heroin-related deaths are on the rise due to the drug being laced with fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent than morphine.


Georgetown has 32,400 inhabitants and is the seat of Scott County, Kentucky. Originally called Lebanon, Georgetown was renamed in 1790 in the honor of President George Washington. Considered part of the Lexington-Fayette-Georgetown Metropolitan Statistical Area, the city grew when Toyota Motor Manufacturing came to town in the 1980s. The racial makeup of this area is 88% White, 7% Black, 1% Asian and 4% Hispanic. Around 38% of households are home to children and teens and the average family size of Georgetown is 3.09. The median household income is $52,000, and 14% of people live in poverty in Georgetown, KY. A 2017 report by WKYT found that opiate-related deaths are increasing in Scott County. There were 125 overdose cases in 2015, which was up from 98 in 2014.


In Boone County, KY, 30,000 people call home to Florence. This city was originally called “Crossroads,” because it was located at the convergence of several roads from Union and Burlington. By 1821, the area was named “Maddentown,” after Thomas Madden a Covington attorney. Later on, the town was renamed Florence, presumably after the city in Italy. In Florence, there are 87 men to 100 women. The median household income in this location is $42,600 and 8% of families live below the poverty line. Insight into Florence’s drug problem was reported recently in the Madison Courier. A local emergency room nurse, who had been in healthcare for 18 years, reported that heroin overdose is a major problem in Florence. She said there were around 50 overdose cases per month in this area with Northern Kentucky officials are calling it an epidemic.


Hopkinsville is the county seat of Christian County, Kentucky and home to around 33,000 people. There are many businesses and industries in Hopkinsville, such as Ebonite International and Western State Hospital. Statistics from the Kentucky Department of Agriculture show that Christian county is the #1 producer of crops for cash receipts, including winter wheat, corn, dark fired tobacco and soybeans. The Kentucky State Epidemiological Outcomes reported that opioid analgesics and tranquilizers were being abused in the city region. The report found that Kentucky has higher rates of illicit use of opioids for all age groups than past years and the rates were highest amongst those 18 to 25 years of age. From 2003 to 2010, the prescription rates for oxycodone and hydrocodone increased by 27%. The overdose mortality rate for this state was said to be 18 per 100,000 persons.


The seat of Jessamine County, Kentucky is Nicholasville, which is home to 28,000 people. Since the late 20th century, Nicholasville has experienced rapid growth, increasing 380% between 1970 and 2010. Home to the Kentucky Wine & Vine Fest, the city was founded in 1798. The town was named for Colonel George Nicholas, one of the fathers of the Kentucky constitution. The local government here operates under a non-partisan City Commission, with one mayor and four commissioners. According to a news report by WKYT, training at the University of Kentucky medical center now focuses on heroin and opioid overdose and the prevention of narcotic abuse. They found that 1,297 people died in 2016 from overdose in this state, with 80% of people using heroin after becoming addicted to prescription opioid substances. The program at the hospital is focusing on training practitioners to focus on treating addiction and to be more cautious when prescribing pain killers.


14News (2017). Five arrested in Owensboro meth bust. Retrieved from: http://www.14news.com/story/34238570/five-arrests-in-owensboro-meth-bust
Bowling Greene Daily News (2015). Heroin Use Rising in Kentucky. Retrieved from: http://www.bgdailynews.com/news/heroin-use-rising-in-kentucky/article_48847c31-3c63-5526-ad16-5aaade1ffa99.html

CNHI News (2016).  Kentucky sees uptick in drug fentanyl. Retrieved from: http://www.cnhinews.com/news/article_821e8a56-330e-11e6-b037-1301d482c274.ht

CNN (2017). ‘He’s blue’: Louisville rattled by 151 overdoses in 4 days. Retrieved from: http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/14/health/heroin-overdose-louisville-opioid-responders-eprise/index.html

Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy (2015). Commonwealth of Kentucky Justice & Public Safety Cabinet 2015 Overdose Fatality Report. Retrieved from:  http://odcp.ky.gov/Documents/2015%20KY%20ODCP%20Overdose%20Fatality%20Report%20Final.pdf

Kentucky State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (2011). Prescription Drug Trends in Kentucky Short Report. Retrieved from: http://chfs.ky.gov/NR/rdonlyres/87074E8C-69F5-426D-A3E2-5BA341F7252A/0/PrescriptionDrugTrendsinKentuckyShortReport.pdf

Lex18 (2017). Kentucky’s Heroin Epidemic Continues. Retrieved from: http://www.lex18.com/story/34413522/kentuckys-heroin-epidemic-continues

Madison Courier (2014). Heroin: Its reaching epidemic stages in Northern Kentucky. Retrieved from: http://madisoncourier.com/Content/Lifestyles/Lifestyles/Article/HEROIN-It-s-reaching-epidemic-stages-in-Northern-Kentucky/182/264/821

River City News (2014). Accused Heroin, Meth, Marijuana Traffickers Busted in Multi-County Investigation. Retrieved from: http://www.rcnky.com/articles/2014/06/13/accused-heroin-meth-marijuana-traffickers-busted-multi-county-investigation

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2011). Kentucky Adolescent Substance Abuse Facts. Retrieved from: https://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/adolescent-health-topics/substance-abuse/states/ky.html

WKYT (2016). Tackling the opioid epidemic. Retrieved from: http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Tackling-the-Opioid-Epidemic-395516281.html

WKYT (2017). 2016 data shows increase in opioid deaths in Scott County. Retrieved from: http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/2016-data-shows-increase-in-opioid-deaths-in-Scott-County-411682265.html