Prescription pill abuse leading to heroin addiction in Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — You might not think of pain pills as a gateway drug, but that’s the case in Indiana today.

“Once you get more dependent on those drugs and the supply starts cutting off, then you have to turn to another source because you’ve really become physically dependent,” said Dean Babcock, associate vice president of Eskenazi’s Midtown Community Mental Health Center. “One of the easiest sources is to find heroin on the street.”

When Babcock starting running methadone clinics 25 years ago, heroin addicts didn’t start the way most do now.

“The population keeps getting younger and younger, down into the teens, and it’s the people who start down the path by using prescription medications, get caught up in it, can’t afford it anymore, the supply comes off, and so then it switches to street heroin use.”

It’s cheaper, easier to get, and gives a similar high.

Babcock is part of a Heroin Task Force comprised of several community leaders from offices such as the coroner, IMPD, EMS, drug and health professionals, and school districts.

The group met Wednesday. They are actively looking for ways to get control if it and to get the message out that heroin is a much bigger problem than many Hoosiers think.

“It really is the person next door,” said Babcock. “It is not the person you see necessarily down on the street corner. It may be your child. I think we need to get rid of our mindset of what does a, quote, “drug addict” look like.”

Last year, there were more than 600 EMS runs related to heroin and 110 people died. That’s three times the number of deaths from just three years ago.

IMPD officers are currently being trained on how to administer a heroin antidote. It’s a nasal spray and soon officers will carry the antidote with them.

If you or someone you know needs help, please contact Eskenazi Midtown Community Mental Health Center or Drug Free Marion County.

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