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Indiana doctor: Prevention, intervention methods key to avoiding youth overdoses

A Southern Indiana doctor said there is a link to drug overdose cases in adults and minors.
Credit: Kimberly Boyles - stock.adobe.com

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Makayla Brown, a six-year-old girl in Louisville, died from fentanyl intoxication the coroner confirmed earlier this week.

One southern Indiana doctor said prevention and intervention methods are key.

“When we see high overdose activity in adults, we know that there's a lot of homes in our area that have opioids and other dangerous substances in those homes where children can get ahold of them,” said Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel.

He said there is a link to drug overdose cases in adults and minors. He said that’s why it’s important to keep Narcan, an overdose-reversing medication.

“Whether that be adolescents, teenagers that are using, or very young children that come across it from a curiosity standpoint, we do know that exists,” Yazel said.

Thankfully, Yazel said in Clark County, the number is small. In the past five years, he said only one minor has overdosed - a 15-year-old in August of 2021.

"We've been fortunate enough not to have that situation in our county with any kind of regularity, but we know the ingredients exist for that to happen,” Yazel said.

Across the river in Jefferson County, the numbers are higher.

According to the coroner's office, out of the 603 confirmed overdose deaths in 2021, 7 were 18 and younger, 5 were under 18.

Out of the 604 overdoses in 2020, the office says 2 were under 18.

Out of the 379 overdoses in 2019, the office reports 1 was under 18.

As for Kentucky as a whole, state data shows less than five children age 0 to 4 died from overdoses; the same goes for ages 5 to 14. However, there is a contrast; there were 127 deaths within the 15 to 24 age group.

Yazel said counties, even those in Kentucky, already collaborate on programs and prevention methods, but he said there's more to be done to tackle this problem.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this story included inaccurate data. This version has been corrected.

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