Updated on May 17, 2024
3 min read

Updated Drug and Alcohol Statistics for Kentucky

Kentucky has been grappling with a significant drug and alcohol addiction crisis, which has had far-reaching consequences for individuals, families, and communities across the state. This article presents an overview of the latest statistics on overdose deaths, substance use disorders, opioid-related issues, alcohol use and related problems, and additional challenges in Kentucky, highlighting the urgent need for effective solutions.

  • In 2022, Kentucky saw a total of 2,135 overdose deaths, a decrease of more than 5% from 2,250 in 2021.1
  • Approximately 81% of overdose deaths in Kentucky involved opioids in 2020.2
  • Kentucky has the third-highest rate of binge drinking in the U.S.3
Kentucky chart 1

Overdose Deaths

Overdose deaths have been a significant issue in Kentucky, although there was a slight decrease in 2022 compared to the previous year. Here are some key statistics:

  • In Jefferson County, 505 residents died from an overdose in 2022, down from 572 in 2021.1
  • The age group 35-44 had the highest number of overdose deaths in 2022, with 643 deaths.1
  • Kentucky experienced a 5% reduction in overdose deaths in 2022, marking the first decrease in four years.1

While the slight decrease in overdose deaths is encouraging, the numbers remain alarmingly high, underscoring the need for continued efforts to address the addiction crisis.

Substance Use Disorders

Substance use disorders are prevalent in Kentucky, affecting a significant portion of the population. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • From 2017 to 2019, the annual average rate of opioid use disorder was 1.3% among people aged 12 or older.4
  • During the same period, the annual average rate of illicit drug use disorder was 3.3% among people aged 12 or older.4
  • The annual average rate of past-month alcohol use among youth aged 12–17 was 10.7% from 2017 to 2019.4
  • The annual average rate of past-month illicit drug use among youth aged 12–17 was 6.5% during the same period.4

These numbers demonstrate the widespread nature of substance use issues across age groups in Kentucky.


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Opioid-Related Statistics

The opioid epidemic has hit Kentucky particularly hard, with a high number of overdose deaths involving opioids. Consider these troubling statistics:

  • In 2020, Kentucky had the third-highest age-adjusted drug overdose fatality rate in the U.S. at 49.3 deaths per 100,000 people.2
  • The proportion of overdose deaths involving fentanyl rose from 29% in 2016 to 69% in 2020.2

The alarming rise in opioid-related deaths underscores the urgent need to address this crisis through comprehensive prevention, treatment, and harm reduction strategies.

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Alcohol Use and Related Issues

Alcohol use and related issues are significant concerns in Kentucky, with increased rates of alcohol use disorder and alcohol-induced deaths. Here are some relevant statistics:

  • Among Medicaid beneficiaries, the rate of alcohol use disorder increased from 2.58% in 2012 to 4.21% in 2019.5
  • The rate of alcohol-induced deaths increased from 6.6 to 14.6 per 100,000 between 2013 and 2020.5

Addressing alcohol-related issues through prevention, treatment, and policy changes is crucial for improving public health in Kentucky.

The statistics presented in this article paint a grim picture of the drug and alcohol addiction landscape in Kentucky. From the high rates of overdose deaths and opioid-related fatalities to the increasing prevalence of alcohol use disorders, it is clear that the state faces significant challenges in addressing this crisis. However, by prioritizing prevention, expanding access to quality treatment, and supporting long-term recovery, Kentucky can work towards a healthier, more resilient future for all its residents.

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Updated on May 17, 2024

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