Deaths from drug overdoses in Kentucky jumped to a new high in 2010, and "rose a staggering 296 percent from 2000 to 2010," Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. "A tidal wave of prescription-drug abuse drove the steep increase," with just over half of the deaths involving prescription drugs, according to a study by researchers at the University of Kentucky.
As usual, the problem is worst in Appalachian Kentucky, as illustrated by this Herald-Leader map:
"The increase in deaths might have been even greater because information was not available for Kentucky residents treated in neighboring states, and because some death certificates might not have listed an overdose as the cause of a person's death when in fact it was," Estep reports. "The report did not measure the impact of changes Kentucky lawmakers made this year aimed at confronting the prescription-drug problem, though it will provide a way to help measure the impact of the law.