Holiday stress could contribute to string of drug overdoses - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Holiday stress could contribute to string of drug overdoses

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Whether you're giving thanks or giving gifts, many families look forward to celebrating the holidays. For many struggling with addiction, the holidays can be difficult and the stress of the season often triggers drug use.

"It's very much a rough time of year for people struggling,” said Pat Fogerty, a drug and alcohol counselor. “It's the collateral effect of addiction. The families are suffering as well, and the loved ones and the friends. It's overall just extra stressful for everybody.”

The holiday pressure could potentially be the reason behind a string of overdoses this weekend. “There's a record-setting overdose rate occurring right now and that number's likely to go up,” Fogarty said.

A total of 268 people died of overdose deaths in Jefferson County last year. That number is expected to increase drastically this year – about 100 more people are projected to die from an overdose in 2016.

"In Jefferson County, alone in 2016, we'll have lost one person everyday,” said Jim Scott, Special Agent in Charge for the Louisville DEA office.

There’s more heroin on the streets than ever before, and it’s also very cheap. Much of the time the heroin is laced with deadly synthetic opioids. "Heroin is not the culprit for these overdoses,” Fogarty said. “It's very likely that fentanyl or another synthetic opioid is being cut in the heroin, and that's the scary part.”

That's because fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin, and it's most certainly here in Louisville.

"A dealer rolled down the window and labeled the drug or the heroin or whatever it was at the time as ‘Paul Bearer.’ It's a very ominous name to say the least" Fogarty said, referring to a story one of his clients told him about an experience buying drugs. The name is a funeral reference and an accurate description of what the drug is capable of, officials say. But even still, the recovery community in Louisville is breaking records of its own.

"The reality is that treatment works and that recovery works,” Fogarty said. "Right now in Louisville, Kentucky we've got more people recovering than ever.”

Fogarty says Louisville has one of the strongest recovery communities in the country, with hundreds of meetings available each week for those struggling with addiction.

For treatment resources, click here

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