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Madison Co. officials say overdose deaths have been worse during pandemic

Published: Apr. 28, 2021 at 5:47 PM EDT
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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Four months into 2021 and the Madison County Coroner says he has already seen as many overdose deaths as he did six months into last year. It’s a similar story for EMS, who say they’ve been on a lot of overdose calls in the past few weeks.

In 2021, Madison County has responded to more than 100 overdose calls.

“Just anecdotally I thought that our overdose responses were up but I was a little shocked to see they were up 50% over the same time. Of last year, January 1 through March 31,” said Carlos Coyle with Madison County EMS.

The numbers have also been rising at the coroner’s office.

“So far we have 28 confirmed, we have four that are pending,” Madison County Coroner Jimmy Cornelison said.

They think there’s a variety of factors, including more people buying drugs that are laced with fentanyl.

“A lot of things that we see people tell us is they bought it as heroin, when in reality it’s fentanyl, which is much more powerful,” Coyle said.

”We’ve questioned a couple times is marijuana being treated maybe with the fentanyl or something like that. When somebody says ‘I don’t do those kind of drugs, but I’ve overdosed. And you all gave me Narcan and brought me back.’ Well, something’s in your pot too,” Cornelison said.

Cornelison says they worked several overdoses after stimulus checks went out.

“I know there’s some people that need it, and I want them to get it. But you know we need some restrictions on that. If you’re going to go buy drugs with that money and not give it to your family then there needs to be something done,” Cornelison said.

And in some cases people seek out the dealers after they hear someone has overdosed, looking for the more powerful drugs.

“I would think if it killed somebody I wouldn’t want to buy that drug. But when you’re under a strong addiction like that I think it just makes you want more,” Coyle said.

Coyle says one way they’re trying to help is their Leave Behind Program. If they answer call of an overdose, but the person doesn’t want to go to the hospital, they will leave Narcan with that person’s family, in case it’s needed in the future.

Coyle said there have been murder and manslaughter charges against the dealers in some of these cases.

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