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Buy Photo  The overdose death toll in Kentucky continued to rise last year, claiming 1,565 lives.
Four drugs – including two popular painkillers – were discovered in more cases than heroin, resulting in fewer cases than the 2016 Fatal Deaths Report found in 2016. The results of the Kentucky Drug Control Bureau provide important insights and warnings on medicines that were previously considered safe.
More se nior citizens die
Twice as many Kentucky seniors died last year from drug overdoses as adolescents and young adults.
Eighty victims aged 24 and under died of overdose last year compared to 164 victims aged 55 and over. Two were 75 or older.
Popular drugs for anxiety and insomnia can be a dangerous mixture if taken in larger doses than prescribed or when mixed with opioid analgesics or alcohol. It is the key to informing all your doctors – from general practitioners to specialists and psychiatrists – about any medication you take to avoid dangerous interactions.
Prescription pills are great killers
Two common prescription drugs were found in a greater percentage of deaths in Kentucky than heroin
► Alprazolam, commonly known by its brand name Xanax, has been detected in more than one case by all three Overdose deaths in the state last year. It is used to treat anxiety, sleep disorders, depression and panic attacks.
► Gabapentin, which is used to treat hot flashes and restless leg syndrome to nerve pain, was found in 31 percent of deaths.
Concern over gabapentin: Drug touted as a safe alternative to analgesics has been found in more Louisville deaths
"Russian Roulette" # 39; ;: A mother warning: He assured me he had drug use under control; now he is dead
Both alprazolam and gabapentin are considered safe if taken as prescribed. But both can be fatal if taken in high doses or mixed with opioid analgesics or alcohol.
Heroin-related deaths accounted for 22 percent of all deaths from Kentucky overdose.
tiny amount of fentanyl can kill (Photo: DEA media library)
Elephant sedative? For real?
Thirteen deaths in Kentucky have been linked to carfentanil, a scary sedative for elephants never intended for humans. It is a synthetic opioid similar to fentanyl and 10,000 times more potent than morphine. It can be secretly hidden in heroin, cocaine, meth and pills.
There is no exact death rate as routine toxicological tests do not detect it. Scary drug stronger than Fentanyl: Louisville officials support overdose of people using elephant sedatives
Video: Scary Elephant Drug Linked to Louisville Overdose
Trendy Drug Blends Hidden in Pills
Fentanyl is up to 50 times more potent than heroin, which is why some doctors refer to it as a game changer who equates experimenting with drugs with Russian roulette. And it's so deadly that it breaks the adage to wait for someone to seek treatment.
It is blamed on more than 64 percent of Jefferson County's 426 drug deaths in the last year and 763 deaths across the country.
There are variations of norfentanyl, accused in 371 Kentucky deaths; Acrylic pentanyl, associated with 3 deaths; Furanylfentanyl, found in 6 deaths; and methoxyacetylfentanyl – one of the newest illegal opioids infiltrating the heroin market – are held responsible for death.
Mexican cartels cook lethal meth
A new and deadlier type of meth is accused in 29 per cent of the state's death. 19659014] Mexican cartels have chemists on employees who mass-produced the drug, which is a synthetic – not derived from plants such as heroin and cocaine. It is now cheaper to buy methamphetamine crystals than to make them in local laboratories that cause dangers of fire or explosion.
But the imported meth is almost 100 percent pure and is called "ice", which makes it much more lethal. And something is put on deadly fentanyl.
A big danger: It's not an opioid, so the popular heroin antidote narcan or naloxone will not work.
This age group suffers most
The highest age group with the most drug-related deaths were men and women ages 35 to 44 with 353 deaths. That's more than every fifth federal drug death.
The Dead Zone: Northern Kentucky
Overdose deaths rose in Jefferson County to 426 last year, but the county is not in the top 5 for most deaths by population
Starting with most deaths per capita, these were Counties: Kenton and Campbell in northern Kentucky; Boyd in eastern Kentucky; Mason in northern Kentucky; and Jessamine near Lexington.
Reporter Beth Warren: firstname.lastname@example.org; 502-582-7164; Twitter @BethWarrenCJ. Support strong local journalism by signing up today: www.courier-journal.com/bethw.
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