Heroin on the Lakeshore

There’s a new Indiana University study that details the cost of the opioid epidemic in Indiana. The report estimates the misuse of opioids has resulted in more than $43 billion in losses over the past 15 years. 

The study outlines an annual average of $3 billion in losses from indirect cost associated with loss of gross state product loss and underemployment due to addiction.  

As opioid-related deaths have continued to climb, naloxone, a drug that can reverse overdoses, has become an important part of the public health response.

When people overdosing struggle to breathe, naloxone can restore normal breathing and save their lives. But the drug has to be given quickly.

On Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams issued an advisory that encouraged more people to routinely carry naloxone.

Medical marijuana appears to have put a dent in the opioid abuse epidemic, according to two studies published Monday.

The research suggests that some people turn to marijuana as a way to treat their pain, and by so doing, avoid more dangerous addictive drugs. The findings are the latest to lend support to the idea that some people are willing to substitute marijuana for opioids and other prescription drugs.

2f0fc9ab-e01b-4de0-9e66-d55da3c79ed7
Jake Harper/ Side Effects Public Media

New research finds that fentanyl is far more common than heroin in overdose deaths in Indianapolis and that blacks are particularly affected.

In 2017, nearly half of the people who died from an overdose in Marion County, where Indianapolis is located, had fentanyl in their system. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is up to 100 times stronger than morphine.

Opioid Overdoses May Be Seriously Undercounted

Mar 21, 2018
e41e4364-ee2c-49bb-9b5b-728efae7321e
Jake Harper / Side Effects

In a refrigerator in the coroner’s office in Marion County, Indiana, rows of vials await testing. They contain blood, urine and vitreous, the fluid collected from inside a human eye. In overdose cases, the fluids may contain clues for investigators. 

How Many Opioid Overdoses Are Suicides?

Mar 15, 2018

Mady Ohlman was 22 on the evening some years ago when she stood in a friend's bathroom looking down at the sink.

"I had set up a bunch of needles filled with heroin because I wanted to just do them back-to-back-to-back," Ohlman recalls. She doesn't remember how many she injected before collapsing, or how long she lay drugged-out on the floor.

"But I remember being pissed because I could still get up, you know?"

She wanted to be dead, she says, glancing down. A wisp of straight brown hair slips from behind an ear across her thin face.

e533a0f1-f33a-4865-9f92-338425357de6
Tex Texin / flickr.com/photos/textexin/3612094774

In March, the Frankfort Police Department will begin to treat every drug overdose as a crime scene in an effort to find and convict drug dealers.

According to new overdose guidelines, officers will first respond to the overdose in a medical sense. And if an opioid was involved, they’ll administer the overdose-reversal drug naloxone.

Funding to help schools in central Indiana develop substance abuse prevention programs is available. The new grant initiative called Prevention Matters from the Fairbanks Foundation aims to connect Marion County students with opportunities for education.

High school aged students who receive proven prevention education are more than 60 percent less likely to use hard drugs like heroin or cocaine.

House Adopts Resolution To Study Medical Marijuana

Jan 25, 2018

The Indiana House voted Thursday to urge the federal government to loosen its grip on marijuana so the drug can be more effectively studied.

A unanimously-adopted resolution also pushes for a state legislative study committee to examine medical marijuana legalization.

f1304a26-d039-4c66-b6f8-ebcb121965d6
calvinnivlac / Flickr

The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee on Wednesday threw its support behind a bill that would require Indiana physicians to check the state prescription database — called INSPECT— before prescribing powerful drugs, including opioids. 

On a Monday afternoon in October, a panel of Iowa state legislators gathered in the Statehouse to discuss the opioid epidemic.

Doctors, law enforcement officials and health insurers took turns at the lectern.

One of the witnesses was Deborah Thompson.

52bb0a6f-fcc4-4821-8b0e-45b99b06d6f2
Gretchen Frazee / WTIU News

At the National Black Caucus of State Legislators Conference in Indianapolis,  U.S. Surgeon General and former Indiana Health Commissioner Jerome Adam called for racial equity in addressing the opioid epidemic.

Opioids Impact Indiana's Infant Mortality Rate

Nov 15, 2017

The Indiana Department of Health marked five years of its Labor of Love summit, an annual event aimed at reducing the state’s infant mortality rate. The rate of infants dying before their first birthday has risen steadily since the campaign began, mainly because of substance use disorders.

When the initiative kicked off in 2012, 556 babies lost their life – last year that number was 623. Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box says any progress the state has made has been overshadowed.

A shortages of qualified treatment providers is frequently cited as an obstacle in fighting the opioid addiction crisis. Yet, according to research published in the journal PLoS One, the solution may lie in the hands of primary care providers who can successfully treat addiction.

Jonathan Guffey has chiseled youthful looks and, at 32, does not have the haggard bearing of someone who has spent more than half his life hooked on opioids. That stint with the drug started at 15 and ended — he says for good — 22 months ago. He has a job working with his family in construction, but his work history is pockmarked by addiction.

"I've worked in a couple of factories for a short amount of time, probably just long enough to get the first check to get high off of," Guffey says.

A pregnant woman in prison typically has 48 hours with her baby after it’s born before it’s taken away: an intensely painful experience for the mother and child alike that additionally has the potential to damage the baby’s development.

When An Overdose Becomes A Gateway To Recovery

Aug 22, 2017
1007c8a7-bfa4-4a18-8287-a89dce29d2bc
Jake Harper/Side Effects

On a cold morning last winter, Christopher Hinds says he woke up early, sick from withdrawal. He called a friend and they trekked across a highway, walking for more than two miles through the snow on a street without sidewalks to buy heroin. 

“You don’t think about nothing but getting it when you’re sick like that,” he says. 

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory

The latest concern that law enforcement, addiction treatment centers and the public face in the battle against opioids is called "gray death."  It's a deadly concoction of gravel-like heroin that was first reported in Southern states and is spreading across the country.   The drug is so powerful that it can be absorbed into the body by merely touching it. 

b1d5b812-a4f3-4233-9ff1-24cf4ac2bf7b
Nathan Forget / https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathanf/

A bill that would give counties the ability to set up needle exchanges without first getting state approval is one step closer to becoming law.

A Senate committee has approved the bill despite concerns from Attorney General Curtis Hill.

ae0a1d01-582d-4d1b-85a5-f613aa36e1f3
Eugene Peretz/Flickr

A new study from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI in Indianapolis has found that restricting opioid prescriptions may have an unintended side effect: more overdose deaths involving heroin and fentanyl. The study also shows that Indiana’s reports don’t reflect the actual number of overdose deaths in which opioid drugs are present.

Today:  an update on recent heroin overdose deaths in LaPorte County and some insight into the opioid addiction problem from Dr. Chris Johnson, chief medical officer of Pinnacle Treatment Centers.  The company operates the RecoveryWorks residential center in Merrillville.  Dr. Johnson says many times, the problem begins with efforts to deal with alcohol abuse.

An update from Indiana Public Broadcasting's Becca Costello on the effort to establish syringe exchange programs across the state.

NPR file photo

It's early into 2017 and LaPorte Police have already responded to incidents in which a person overdosed on opiates, or was thought to have experienced a drug overdose.  LaPorte Police Department Captain Thomas Thate,  who is the Chief Detective of the Detective Bureau says the department had it's first-of-the-year Narcan deployment on January 28th.  Narcan is the antidote used for the treatment of an opiate emergency, such as an overdose.  The victim Thate says was a white male in his late thirties.  An ambulance responded and the emergency crew determined he had possibly overdosed on an op

 

Child neglect is defined as a type of abuse where people can lose custody of their children because they can’t provide the necessary care. Zoey Meisberger’s parents couldn’t care for her because of their addiction.

In 2015, there were 17,491 Children In Need of Services, or CHINS, cases filed in Indiana. This is a nearly 23 percent increase over the previous year and a 97 percent increase over the past 10 years.