Mason County included in drug study

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
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There are a lot of good things going on in Maysville.

The downtown area is experiencing a revitalization, much in anticipation of the city’s inclusion on the B-Line, Northern Kentucky’s spur of the Bourbon Trail. There is also a buzz in the air as licensing is in the works for the Landing at Limestone, which is the name selected for the city’s entertainment destination center.

There is job growth and new construction. Efforts are underway to provide green space in the East End. The county’s public library is expanding in its downtown location. Comprehend Inc. is making a major investment with a new $6 million facility on Forest Avenue. There are plans to upgrade and reconstruct sidewalks and streets in the West End. New gas lines are going in soon. The CSX train depot is getting a face lift.

But among all the good news, there remains the specter of what has become a problem across the nation and to which the area is not immune — drug abuse and the havoc it wrecks on the community and those who live here.

The 2017 Overdose Fatality Report, released recently by the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, does not have good news for the area. In fact, it list Mason County among the top five counties in the commonwealth for overdoes deaths per capita. Mason County is No. 4 with 58.20. The highest rate is Kenton County at 69.5, followed by Campbell County at 66.

According to the report, substance abuse, particularly the diversion and abuse of prescription drugs, is one of the most critical public health and safety issues facing Kentucky. Over the past decade, the number of Kentuckians who die from drug overdoses has steadily climbed to more than 1,500 each year, exacting a devastating toll on families, communities, social services and economic stability and growth, the report indicates.

In local counties, Bracken, Fleming, Lewis and Robertson counties each recorded less than five drug-related deaths in 2017, the threshold required to meet the studies criteria. A chart which accompanies the study indicates 1-4 heroin-involved deaths in the period in Mason and Robertson counties. All Buffalo Trace counties were IDed as having fentanyl-involved overdose deaths.

Statewide drug-related deaths are most likely to occur in those age 35-44.

Both Mason County Judge-Executive Joe Pfeffer and Maysville Mayor David Cartmell acknowledge there is a drug issue to be addressed.

“It’s a problem there is not silver bullet for,” Pfeffer said.

“It drives crime,” Cartmell, who plans to ask for more funding for police in next year’s budget said.

While heroin and opioids have been the driver behind drug addiction and drug-related fatalities over the past few years, Commonwealth’s Attorney Kelly Clarke said that is on the wan and what is next on the horizon is even worse.

“Meth(amphetamine) is here and it’s bad,” he said. “It’s not the shake-and-bake stuff; it’s the ‘Breaking Bad’ meth.”

Meth addicts are more likely to be violent, Clarke said.

“Heroin addicts kill themselves,” Clarke said. “Meth addicts kill other people.”

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Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]