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First responders participate in opioid overdose training

STANFORD — Local first responders were brought up to speed on the latest statistics regarding the opioid epidemic last week as they participated in an overdose training at the local health department.

Last week’s class was organized by Bluegrass.org, a non-profit that offers specialized treatment programs throughout it’s 17-county service area, and taught by Stanford Police Investigator Ryan Kirkpatrick.

Attendees were given the latest information and statistics on substance abuse and opioid overdoses, including what signs to look for and how to respond.

Every day, more than 115 people in the United States die after overdosing on opioids, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Lincoln County’s drug overdose mortality rate is 30.8 deaths per 100,000 people ages 15 to 64, according to a new data tool released earlier this year by the Appalachian Regional Commission. Lincoln County’s overdose mortality rate is based on data from 2011 to 2015.

The tool also includes socioeconomic data, including unemployment, poverty, education and disability rates.

“There are several populations that the consequences of opioid overdoses are worse for,” Kirkpatrick said.

Those populations included adolescents, women, homeless, incarcerated, veterans and mentally ill people.

In many cases, what began as legitimate pain treatment turned into an addiction, Kirkpatrick said.

“Out of this whole opioid situation with prescription pills, only 5 percent of them were bought from a dealer,” he said.

Kirkpatrick said heroin use has dropped off slightly in Lincoln County.

“It’s still out there, but I believe everybody got scared from the overdoses we were having and decided to go back to meth. Meth felt safe,” Kirkpatrick said. “I personally don’t think the increased jail sentences and all that stuff scared anybody. I really think what boosted the awareness of the heroin was the actual fentanyl. Once it was introduced into the heroin, everybody got scared.”

The class also covered laws related to substance abuse, such as the “Good Samaritan Law” which protects people from prosecution when they report a drug overdose, and “Casey’s Law” which is in an involuntary treatment act for those who suffer from addiction.

SO YOU KNOW

Bluegrass.org offers treatment for mental health, substance use disorders and intellectual and developmental disabilities. Bluegrass.org also offers 24-hour help line for appointments and support. The number is (800) 928-8000.