MOORESVILLE, Ind. – Indiana's attempt to eliminate substance drug abuse continues to be an up-hill battle for most communities. The statistics in Morgan County are similar to much of the state, except in Mooresville where the issue is much less prevalent.
The Morgan County Sheriff's Office reported the county has had more than 150 overdoses so far in 2017, and on pace to easily pass 2016's total of 194. Despite similar size populations, there are more overdose reports in Martinsville compared to Mooresville, the county's two largest communities.
“The most we had I think is three in a month," said Mooresville Chief of Police Richard Allen.
A couple of county officials said the drug problem may occur more often outside the town limits. They could take place at a Mooresville address, but fall inside the area that sheriff deputies would go to instead of the town's police.
Allen said he isn't quite sure why the drug issue hasn't gotten to his town, but would like to think it's because he and other officials have a good plan in place. Right now, making sure the issue doesn't get substantially worse is a part of what's going on.
Recently, Allen talked with residents about how to handle a situation where they may come across a syringe, which if used with a powerful opioid, could have dangerous and life-threatening affects.
"It was just if they do find a syringe, what to do with it," he said. "Mainly, use common sense. We much rather have the guys go out and check it and it be nothing versus being on the other side of that.”
Countywide, the drug problem is so bad that this summer the Indiana State Department of Health reported non-fatal emergency visits due to opioid overdose rates by county from 2011 to 2015. When factoring in per capita, Morgan County had the second highest rate in all of Indiana.
“It shows that the first responders are doing a good job and getting these patients to the hospital," Capt. Brent Worth of the Morgan County Sheriff's Office said. "It also opens doors up for us to maybe intervene, and get these people on the opioids into different facilities or treatment options.”
Kristinina Love runs the Morgan County Substance Abuse Council, which has helped start up and fund several treatment and recovery programs. She thought Mooresville's close proximity to Indianapolis and treatment centers was why the drug problem was in a better position in Morgan County's most northern town.
Programs backed by the council include Reformers Unanimous, which weekly has more than 100 people at the Martinsville Baptist Tabernacle each Friday. The program goes to the jail with the attempt to get inmates off drugs before they're out behind bars. It's also funded two homeless shelters for women. One shelter is for women without children, the Magdalene House, and the other for women with children, the WellSpring Center. Both are located in Martinsville.
The council oversees the county's drug and alcohol revenue from court-related fees. It then re-distributes the funds to criminal justice and drug prevention and treatment.