Senator meets with leaders to find solutions to growing heroin epidemic

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By: Marisela Burgos

CONNERSVILLE – U.S. Senator Joe Donnelly visited with leaders in Connersville to discuss the growing heroin epidemic in the area.

Senator Donnelly met with the police chief, the mayor, the director of the House of Ruth, and other local leaders. He met with them for close to 2 hours.

“It’s stunning in a town as wonderful as Connersville to have such a (problem) is heartbreaking. We can’t pretend it hasn’t happened. What we can do is try to start knocking out all the root causes of it and then one by one by one trying to make sure everyone here has hope and has a chance,” Sen. Donnelly said.

Since late September, about 30 people have overdosed on heroin. Six of those people have died.

The House of Ruth is one place woman can turn to, if they want help with an addiction. The facility has been open in Connersville for 5 years. Sharon Cranfill, director of the House of Ruth, said she hopes they will open a facility for men in the future.

“This is monumental to us because we have been here about 5 years and we have said there (has) been a problem and I think that it’s an issue we maybe didn’t want to have to address,” Cranfill said.

Cranfill has noticed more people asking for help, this year, because of heroin than previous years. Paige Caudle has been in the program 2 months. She was addicted to heroin and cocaine.

“Sometimes you think about where you’ve been, the people you’ve been with, and (the) places you ended up. Sometimes it’s hard to let that all go,” Caudle said.

Caudle said she has started to let go of her demons and she hopes other people will ask for help too.

“I didn’t want to (come here) at first, but it (has) all worked out. It’s all working out,” Caudle said.

Today’s meeting was private. Senator Donnelly said it is important for everyone to work together. Senator Donnelly and Senator Kelly Ayotte introduced a bill aimed to fight against prescription drug abuse and heroin abuse. One way it does so is by getting local leaders federal funding.

“What I want to try to do is say ‘hey, I’m listening. How can we help?’ And then, on top of that (I) have legislation in place that can help with some of the building blocks to end this,” Donnelly said.

Caudle is encouraged by Donnelly’s visit.

“I just think it’s like a door opening for not just me, but all of us,” Caudle said.

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