Bath Co. community members react to having most overdose deaths in Ky. last year

Bath County had the highest rate of drug overdose deaths in Kentucky last year
Published: Aug. 31, 2023 at 6:45 PM EDT
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BATH COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Kentucky’s 2022 Overdose Fatality Report stated that Bath County saw the highest rate of overdose deaths per capita last year.

This rating has left many community members wondering what can be done to bring those numbers down.

“I’m actually surprised it didn’t happen earlier,” said Bath County EMS Director Gary Bealert. “We’ve had issues with that ever since the pain medicine epidemic, and now its moved on to the harder stuff.”

Bealert said the overdose issue across the county is putting a strain on first responders.

“We’ve even had problems at times getting access to Narcan. The suppliers that we usually use were running low at some points or not having any at all,” he said.

Bath County Coroner Andrew Owens said there is a main drug to blame for these fatalities.

“Almost every death certificate that I sign that’s an overdose is fentanyl-related,” Owens said. “That tells me that we need to find the source of the problem and try to fix it.”

Although some community members are optimistic that things will look up for the county, others said they do not believe the area will overcome this issue.

“I think it’s gonna be a continuing trend,” said Bealert. “The drugs are, basically, people are making them from YouTube, and they can buy supplies from everywhere and just make them. I don’t see them going anywhere.”

Justin Sutherland with the Owingsville Police Department said the area lacks access to recovery resources.

“I just don’t think there’s enough programs out here for these drug users to be able to get themselves clean, and a lot of them, it’s just hard to admit that they’ve got a problem.”

Bealert added that with the recovery programs available to Bath Countians, the missing piece of the puzzle is supporting mental health.

“When you talk to people, when they started using, it was all mental health-related, that they started using for relief from some kind of trauma and pain, and when they do it the first time, they’re pretty much hooked.”

Owens said that it would take a community effort to curb this issue.

“You know the families of these people that’s overdosing, they’re being unheard right now, but hopefully not for long,” Owens said.

You can find the 2022 Overdose Fatality Report here.