Lexington received a second major federal grant to support its fight against opioids and other illegal drugs, and overdoses.
“The impact of illegal drugs has been devastating since the pandemic, when we saw a dramatic increase in overdose deaths that no one could have predicted,” Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton said. “The number of overdoses has increased every year since the pandemic. More than 2,200 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021, an increase of 14.5% from 2020.”
The 2020 National Survey of Drug Use and Health estimates that 9.6% of Kentucky adults used an illicit drug in the past 30 days and 6.0% met criteria for a drug-related disorder. illicit drug use in the past year. Direct application of these estimates to the adult population of Lexington suggests that 24,525 adults used illicit drugs in the past 30 days and 15,329 met the criteria for an illicit drug use disorder in the past 30 days. of the past year.
Lexington recently received a $2 million federal grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration that will allow the city to continue working with partners to provide lifesaving naloxone to those at risk of overdose and put them in contact with vital services. .
“Our first step must be to save lives,” Gorton said. “Then comes treatment support. We greatly appreciate the partners who work with us and the contributions of the members of the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Substance Use Disorders, who help us administer the grant funding.
The new grant will allow the city to continue its “Leave Behind Program,” where members of the Lexington Fire Department follow up with people who have survived an overdose. The program provides training on naloxone and overdose prevention and connects the survivor with service providers.
Additionally, the grant will provide naloxone to Lexington police officers to carry in their patrol cars. As part of their job, the police distribute about 150 doses of naloxone a year.
In 2018, the city received a $2 million federal grant to help it strengthen overdose prevention infrastructure. Through this grant, the city, in conjunction with the Fayette County Health Department, provided more than $1 million worth of naloxone to people at increased risk of overdose and those who want to be prepared if they witness or suspect an overdose.
Nearly 14,000 naloxone kits were provided to individuals and programs and more than 130 overdose prevention trainings and naloxone distributions took place.
Hospitals, substance use disorder treatment programs, recovery residences, shelters, hotels, domestic violence and sexual assault prevention programs, fraternity houses, and many other places of the city learned how to respond to an overdose and are equipped with naloxone as a result of outreach funded by the first grant.