Drug overdose deaths reach all-time high in America

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (December 18, 2015) - The CDC is reporting more people died in 2014 from overdosing on drugs than any year ever on record. It’s a growing problem including in Indiana. The heroin epidemic is blamed for the historic HIV outbreak in the southern part of the state.

Nationwide, in 2014, more than 47,000 people died from overdosing on drugs; that’s one and a half times the number of people killed in car crashes.

“The truth is we don’t want anybody to hurt and pain medicine is very good at keeping people from hurting,” said Scott Watson, a Clinical Addiction Counselor with Heartland Intervention.

Prescription pain pills and other opioids, like heroin, the CDC says are responsible for 61% of the drug overdose deaths in 2014.

“We have certainly seen an uptick in the number of overdoses and other problematic situations in Central Indiana. These numbers seem to confirm that,” said Watson.

In Central Indiana, the signs of a drug epidemic are everywhere. Late last month DEA agents raided a VA Medical Center in Marion for prescribing an unusually high number of prescription pain killers. Opioid addiction and heroin use is also to blame officials say for the record breaking HIV outbreak in Southern Indiana this summer, where there were nearly 200 new HIV cases in a matter of months.

The CDC reports, 2014 was the deadliest year on record for drug overdoses. They report a 137% increase from overdose deaths in 2000 and a 200% increase in opioid overdose deaths from the same year.

In part, the CDC says they’ve seen a big impact in the Midwest.

“It’s important when we see statistics like this not to get locked in on the numbers but to remember that these are actually real, live Hoosiers that we’re talking about,” said Watson.

Watson says it is a slippery slope from popping pain pills to that next high which often can be heroin.

“It’s also important that doctors and pharmacists and community mental health and substance abuse and law enforcement all work together in order to combat what we now know is a tidal wave that is striking cities like Indianapolis and elsewhere throughout the country,” he said.

The CDC also recommends wider use of Naloxone or Narcan, a drug that can save someone who is experiencing and opioid overdose.