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Overdoses spike in Lee County

Overdose Deaths
Posted at 6:49 PM, Mar 21, 2022

LEE COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — In Lee County, six deaths and 21 overdoses in just three weeks have been reported. These troubling numbers for March are part of a larger trend in the county.

"People think they're getting a Xanax or a Klonopin and it's really fentanyl."

First responders say they believe it's a dangerous combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine that's causing this dramatic spike in drug overdoses.

"Whenever you're in the middle of it, and sometimes you have several overdoses a day, you wonder if you're doing enough,” said JoAnn Vanzant, Lee County’s Harm Reduction Program Coordinator.

Inside "The Hub" in downtown Beattyville recovery advocates like Joann Vanzant are tracking the data. They're also trying to connect with the people behind the numbers.

"I am confident to say one way or another, everyone has been impacted by drug use,” said Vanzant.

Michael Hicks spent 20 years in active heroin addiction.

He's now a peer support specialist, helping others just like him across eastern Kentucky.

"I hate to see another one lost in addiction. I hate to see a life taken by that,” Hicks said. “That's what we're fighting against, and trying to get to them before it gets to that point."

The challenge ahead for Lee County is reaching people before they get their hands on the dangerous drugs in circulation.

"A lot of people don't know about it, so we're trying to reach out to people to let them know there's more to it than they're thinking,” Hicks said.

The Hub just opened in February and offers services like overdose response, recovery coaching, and help with housing or food. Eventually, it will house a syringe exchange program.