Too many people die due to opioid abuse, and we know that. It’s natural to be intrigued by the numbers.

The statistics aren’t pretty and they’re not easy to look at, but they’re the best way to convey the magnitude of one of the most pressing problems in the Tri-State, specifically in Boyd and Carter Counties. Now, we do the math on opioid issues; we’d rather not have to start doing math on meth problems.

We’re all aware of area pockets where suspicious activity is more prevalent. Many of us steer clear because we don’t want to expose families to it or we are scared for our own safety.

That latter fear is becoming more real as one particular drug further invades and permeates the community: methamphetamine.

It’s important to grab hold of available literature pertaining to the dangers of this drug. Even if you’ve never been within 500 yards of the drug, perhaps someone in your family or circle of friends needs to know about the extensive harmfulness of it.

It’s easy to simply get wrapped up in numbers, particularly regarding opioid use and the damage it does, and just shake your head or throw your hands up.

According to the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, there were 10 OD deaths in Carter County and 12 in Greenup in 2018. Boyd County had 27 in 2018 down from 31 in 2017.

So far in 2019, Boyd has 21 confirmed overdose deaths according to Boyd County Coroner Mark Hammond.

And, as terrifying and ugly as opioids can be, methamphetamine might be of even larger concern because of its association with violent crime. As Robert Duncan Jr., U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Kentucky, articulated in a recent visit to Ashland’s The Daily Independent, meth and violence go “hand in hand.”

According to an article in the U.S. National Library of Medicine by Mary-Lynn Brecht and Diane Herbeck, 56% of meth users in a California county perceived that their use of the drug resulted in violent behavior.

The drug name has appeared — at least once and often multiple times — in 15 articles in CNHI News Service stories in northeast Kentucky over the last month alone.

It’s assuring to know Duncan and local law enforcement officials are putting forth concerted, all-in efforts on limiting meth’s impact in northeastern Kentucky. The penalties for trafficking offenses, as Duncan stated, are stiff, but are they stiff enough? That’s always up for evaluation.

Drugs are still very much a problem in this area. But as long as we see decreases in their negative impact, such as opioid deaths — although 31 to 27 to 21 (with some of the year left) is subtle — there is hope.

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