INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis EMS were dispatched to nearly 70 overdoses over the course of three days this weekend, a grim reminder of Indiana’s drug epidemic that has surged throughout the pandemic.

According to officials, EMS paramedics and EMTs have administered the opioid reversing agent naloxone 255 times in the month of February. A stark 30 percent increase from one year prior when IEMS administered naloxone 194 times in February of 2021.

“We don’t see an end in sight right now and so what we’re hoping is that citizens will take this issue very seriously,” said Mark Liao, Medical Director of Indianapolis EMS.

Naloxone is an overdose-reversal drug often known by the brand name Narcan.

IEMS stated naloxone was administered 39 times over the weekend, 17 times on Friday, 10 times on Saturday and 12 times on Sunday.

“That doesn’t include firefighters, police officers, bystanders giving Narcan – that’s just our ambulance service giving Narcan,” said Liao. “That’s a heavy number of people that have stopped breathing and need that life-saving medicine.”

Last year, Governor Eric Holcomb announced the state would fund a $1.3 million distribution of naloxone to communities throughout the state to ensure the medication reaches Hoosiers who are at risk of drug overdoses. This wasn’t the first time the state invested in naloxone either with Holcomb previously earmarking $1 million for 25,000 doses in May of 2020.

“There’s been a really, really big shift. This really isn’t about prescription drugs anymore – this is about fentanyl. It’s about the drug supply and almost every type of drug having some type of fentanyl in it,” said  Brandon George, director of the Indiana Addictions Issues Coalition. “The reality is: people just don’t know what they’re getting. And so you may have an average college kid that thinks he’s taking a pill to stay up and study all night and all of a sudden he overdoses and dies because it was a fake pill and had fentanyl in it.”

George, who is also the Vice President of Mental Health America of Indiana, said even recreational drug users are at risk for overdose nowadays – not just IV drug users.

“If you’re a regular citizen – the same way that you might want to learn CPR or that you might keep an epipen with you just in case – please get some doses of Narcan because unfortunately people are dying all over the place,” said George.

George said Narcan is now widely accessible across Indiana and is offered for free by several organizations.

“Overdose Lifeline is an amazing organization that works directly with the governor’s office,” said George. “Overdose Lifeline will even mail it to you so you don’t have to leave the comfort of your house.”

According to the Indiana government website, nearly 100,000 doses of naloxone have been distributed to local health departments as part of the state and federal funded distribution program.

To request Naloxone or Fentanyl Test Strips be shipped directly to your home from Overdose Lifeline, click here.

For naloxone box locations and distribution centers click here.

To connect with a recovery coach or naloxone from the Indiana Recovery Network, click here.

For more information on naloxone or to find out where eligible personnel can get naloxone, visit optin.in.gov.