Every state in the country is facing the effects of the drug epidemic that has swept the nation for over a decade. Since 1990, drug overdose death rates nationwide have more than tripled, and the rising number of drug-related crimes and deaths are forcing state lawmakers to take decisive action.
Indiana has certainly felt the effects of this crisis, and the state is currently overwhelmed with opioid painkiller and heroin addiction cases.
Indiana’s Struggles with Opioids
State hospitals in Indiana report nearly 400 overdose-related visits every week. In 2016 alone, 619 Indiana residents died from opioid overdoses. These staggering numbers have spurred Indiana lawmakers to create a multifaceted plan to curb these trends.
The Indiana Commission on Drug Abuse recently approved a dual approach to substance abuse: curbing the number of overdose deaths by increasing the availability of naloxone, and increasing access to substance abuse treatment programs. In some Indiana counties, the drug overdose death rate per 100,000 residents is as high as 47, eclipsing the national average of 11 by a wide margin.
While Indiana faces issues with several types of drugs, heroin and other opioids continue to be the top priority for state lawmakers. Increasing the availability of naloxone to those who need it is definitely step in the right direction. Naloxone is one of the few drugs capable of reversing the effects of an opioid overdose, and Good Samaritan laws protect those who seek emergency medical care for others from facing drug charges.
Prescriptions Leading to Heroin Use
One of the most troublesome aspects of the opioid crisis is the fact most addiction cases arise from normal use of prescribed drugs. Many people receive opioid medication prescriptions for legitimate medical reasons, and some turn to heroin once they run out of refills.
Heroin is relatively inexpensive compared to prescription pills on the black market, so many people with opioid addictions try heroin as a more cost-effective means of maintaining their habits. Unfortunately, heroin is not only extremely potent, but also susceptible to tampering.
The Fentanyl Problem in Indiana
Drug dealers often alter their heroin supply with other substances to either create a larger batch of sellable product or to alter the product’s effects. Many Indiana law enforcement officials have reported fentanyl in seized drugs.
Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is vastly more potent – and therefore more deadly – than heroin. The lethal dose of fentanyl is a fraction of the size of a lethal dose of heroin.
The Indiana Department of Homeland Security also reported several seizures of carfentanil, an opioid compound that is up to 100 times more potent than fentanyl.
The fentanyl issue exposed another dangerous trend: drug dealers disguising their wares as candy. Indiana police recently arrested a 30-year old man after a sting operation for selling SweeTARTS candies laced with drugs. While drug dealers often employ this tactic to hide their supplies from police, if a child were to find one of these candies, it could easily lead to a fatal overdose.
A New Health Crisis Due to the Opioid Epidemic
Indiana has also suffered an unexpected problem due to increased heroin use in the state. Many drug users do not have access to clean syringes and often share their paraphernalia with other users. When sharing syringes, drug users risk transmitting communicable diseases such as hepatitis, HIV and other infectious medical conditions.
Austin, Indiana became the epicenter of the largest HIV outbreak in the United States. Many factors – including decades of economic decline, a median household income lower than the state average, and a flood of illegal drugs from nearby metropolitan areas like Indianapolis and Chicago – created a perfect storm with disastrous public health consequences.
In 2015, health officials reported 81 positive HIV tests in a single week in Austin. Socioeconomic issues, lack of access to treatment, and general malaise over life in Austin are all contributing factors to this epidemic.
How Is Indiana Fighting Back?
A WalletHub study recently reported that Indiana ranks 14th in the nation for drug abuse, and state policymakers are enacting measures to drive public awareness of this continuing problem. The study also showed that Indiana has had the highest rate of methamphetamine lab-related incidents in the country.
Additionally, Indiana ranks sixth in the country for college student arrests for drug-related crimes. Finally, the report showed that Indiana ranks ninth in the country for prescription opioid painkiller use, with a rate of about 109 prescriptions for every 100 residents.
An outlook report from the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration does not project an end to the crisis anytime soon. Not only is Indiana floundering amid the ongoing opioid crisis, but the entire Midwest region of the United States is suffering as well. Even robust, trustworthy, and reputable treatment centers in the state are struggling to keep pace with the growing demand for opioid addiction treatment.
With no clear end to the problem in sight, no concrete solutions from Indiana policymakers, and limited access to treatment and recovery resources in the state, it falls on individuals to stay updated on these disturbing trends and understand the importance of seeking treatment as soon as possible.
Don’t Wait to Seek Help
Reflections Recovery Center understands the challenges facing people struggling with addiction. We help clients from all over the United States, and Indiana residents are sure to find a viable treatment plan with us.
However, the best way to treat substance abuse is with prevention and advocacy. If a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it’s imperative to encourage them to seek treatment before the problem escalates to critical levels.
Finding accessible, comprehensive opioid addiction treatment in Indiana is difficult. Those who are struggling with substance abuse or whose loved ones are searching for treatment options must be open to the idea of traveling out of state for treatment.
Heading to Reflections in Prescott, Arizona can offer a healing environment in a new location and new climate, where Indiana residents struggling with addiction can get the care and individualized attention they need to overcome substance abuse.