In a single night in Louisville, more than 20 people arrived in emergency rooms for suspected heroin overdoses. One of them died.

The spike has prompted calls of a public health emergency, as particularly potent strains — often laced with poisons — are leading to more overdoses and deaths.

“There’s heroin on the street in Louisville that’s going to kill people,” said Dr. Robert Couch, an emergency room physician at Norton Hospital.

Couch saw eight overdoses Tuesday night alone.  “I haven’t seen overdoses like this, in this frequency, in my 30 years of practice,” he said.

What caused this crisis? And what’s being done to keep it from getting worse?

We spoke to medical experts about the sudden rise in heroin use, in an hour-long news special. Listen to the audio in the player above.


  • Dr. Robert Couch, emergency room physician at Norton Hospital
    Amanda Hall, manager of women’s services at The Healing Place
    David Yates, Metro Council president
    Dr. Hiram Polk, state health commissioner
    Lisa Gillespie, WFPL health reporter
Laura oversees WFPL's podcast strategy and produces Curious Louisville, where listeners submit questions and our reporters find out the answers.