Drug overdoses quadruple, Indiana leads nation

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INDIANAPOLIS – A new report by the Trust for America’s Health ranks Indiana in the top five states for fastest-growing rate of drug overdose deaths.

Deaths due to drug overdose have quadrupled in Indiana over the past decade.

The report points to areas that Indiana has not tackled, including expansions to Medicaid to cover substance abuse, an education requirement for those who prescribe drugs and a Good Samaritan Law, that works like the Lifeline Law by protecting those who report a drug overdose.

Parents Kristy and Bill Nelson are sharing their son Bryan’s story to try and educate Hoosiers about the dangers of drug abuse.

“(His) main goals (are) to get off prescription drugs for good, prove to his family (he can) beat the disease,” Kristy Nelson said.

Nelson was reading a list of goals Bryan, 20, wrote in a rehabilitation program. Despite that trip, Bryan relapsed in 2009 and died of an overdose.

“I think he thought he could stop, and he got in so deep he couldn’t get out,” Nelson said.

The Nelsons said that they wanted to give Bryan freedom and didn’t think it would go so far, even ignoring some warning signs. Both work in fields that position them to see drug abuse all the time.

“It can happen to anybody. Here I am a sitting judge. Here’s his mother that works at a rehab center, we should’ve noticed things sooner,” Bill Nelson said.

To Randy Miller with Drug Free Marion County, one of the biggest concerns is the rise in drug abuse among those 18-25 years old. Miller said often abuse begins with prescriptions drugs but transitions to cheaper drugs like heroin.

“(They say), ‘Oh, I could never stick a needle in my arm.’ (But) when people get into throes of addiction, those kind of things go out the window. You don’t make choices anymore,” Miller said.

Miller suggested that you dispose of any old medications instead of keeping them around the house. Most addicts get their first drugs from a family member or friend.

You can also find more information on drug abuse and prevention at bitterpill.in.gov.