HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. (Feb. 29, 2016) - The heroin epidemic continues to take lives in central Indiana, including in Hamilton County, which according to the Federal Center for Disease Control ranks fourth in the state for its number of heroin overdoses.
Some help arrived there Monday though. Every deputy in Hamilton County will now have the ability to administer narcan, the life-saving drug given to pull people out of an overdose.
It’s a huge step but some say it’s a small one for what has become one of the biggest epidemics in Indiana.
“It’s definitely a measure, a life-saving measure that we can implement in the field but that ongoing addiction issue will be there,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Mark Bowen.
Bowen has seen firsthand how heroin continues to destroy lives in his county. He says narcan will save countless lives.
“Today we’re seeing heroin in homes of very well to do people, kids that make good grades, star athletes, it knows no socio-economic boundaries currently and so it’s obviously very concerning,” he said.
“Narcan in and of itself is simply a first line of defense,” said Scott Watson, a Clinical Addictions Counselor and founder of Heartland Intervention.
It’s what happens after narcan is administered that can make the biggest impact. Too many times, addicts see narcan as a lifeline to their next high and not a call to get clean. Watson knows the solution to the state’s heroin epidemic is not as simple as a narcan kit in every squad car.
“Narcan has the ability to take someone who’s clinically dead or almost nearly so and almost instantaneously bring them back from the brink. So we celebrate the fact that police officers and others now have access to narcan, that’s a very, very good thing. But access to narcan alone is not going to solve our addiction problem,” he said.
Bowen did say he thinks they’ve gotten a grip on prescription pain meds but in filling that void, he says he’s seen heroin abuse rise.
The numbers in Indiana prove that the heroin epidemic continues to destroy lives. In 2014, 170 people died from overdosing on heroin in Indiana, ten years ago, there were only nine deaths at the hands of heroin.