Opioid abuse and addiction is a significant problem in western Kentucky. It affects families, workplaces, schools and more.

"Kentucky is a top 10 state for opioid-related deaths," said Tamara James, a Henderson therapist who has been working with addiction and substance abuse issues for the past 12 years. "I don't know anybody who isn't affected in some way."

The fatal overdose rate in Kentucky is the fourth highest among the 50 states, James said.

"We had more than 1,500 Kentuckians die from drug overdoses in 2017," she said. "That's four people each and every day." Last month, four deadly overdoses in Lyon County occurred across four days.

And that statewide rate is increasing, not decreasing, by more than 10 percent a year.

For that reason, a day-long substance abuse forum is set for Thursday, Feb. 27 in Madisonville. Its title: "The Western Kentucky Opiod/SUD Summit: Community Solutions to Substance Abuse Disorder."

Everyone from family members to employers, workplace supervisors, educators, social workers and health-care professionals are urged to attend. The goal, said James, is for everyone to leave that day with practical information and contacts that they can use to fight substance abuse.

Those interested in attending can call the local chamber at 270-826-7505 to get tickets, which are $35. Or email ellen@hendersonkychamber.com. The cost includes lunch, course material and continuing education credits for some professionals.