The Mountain Eagle
Whitesburg KY
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Overdose deaths fall to 10

“Pill cocktails” are blamed for 10 of the 11 Letcher County drug overdose deaths in 2015, said Letcher County Coroner Perry Fowler.

“You rarely see one drug,” said Fowler. “It’s usually a cocktail mixture of two or more drugs.”

A single drug, which Fowler didn’t name to keep anonymity of the deceased, was detected in one of the toxicology reports.

Since at least 2012, the majority of overdoses in Letcher County have included a combination of prescription painkillers and anti-anxiety drugs classified as benzodiazepines. About 75 percent of the overdose deaths in 2015 involved at least one of the popular narcotic painkillers hydrocodone and oxycodone, Fowler said.

Drugs sold under the brand names Valium, Klonopin and Xanax are the benzodiazepines that most often appeared in toxicology reports.

The pharmaceutical drug gabapentin, which is sold under the brand name Neurontin and is used as a non-narcotic treatment for epilepsy and nerve pain, showed up in at least half of the toxicology reports, Fowler said.

“When they take a lot of it and combine it with an opioid, breathing becomes a problem,” said Fowler.

Alcohol was involved in a couple of the overdose deaths. Methamphetamine and heroin were not detected in any of the 11 toxicology reports, Fowler said.

Ages of those who died from overdoses varied from 20 to 60.

Drugs were also a factor in five other deaths here last year.

Fowler said 13 people in 2014 died from drug overdoses in Letcher County. Ten overdose deaths were reported in 2013; 12 overdose deaths in 2012; 24 overdose deaths in 2011 and 18 overdose deaths in 2010.

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