SHELBYVILLE, Ind. – Candles were lit Saturday night to remember friends and family who died from drug and opioid addiction. It was part of the Gone Too Soon service held outside the Shelby County Courthouse.
Several speakers talked to the crowd of roughly 60, many also supporting other people who continue their battle with drugs today.
“We have a lot of people that are using and I think this draws attention to the fact that there is a problem and each life matters,” said Shelby County Drug Free Coalition executive director, Lori Springer.
Looking at data puts out a mix result to how bad the opioid epidemic is in Shelby County.
According to Indiana’s website for drug recovery, the county has seen less than five opioid-related deaths between 2008 to 2016. Figures for 2017 have not been released.
“It doesn’t tell the whole story, because many of our people, instead of it counting as a statistic in Shelby County, they’re transported to Indianapolis and they die in Indianapolis,” Springer said.
The coroner in Hamilton County has said the same thing about the drug problem there being worse than statistics show.
A leader at the county jail said nearly two out of every three inmates are in the Shelby County Jail due to drugs.
“We’re seeing more and more inmates on a yearly basis,” said Chief Deputy Louie Koch, who is a member of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. “That hasn’t slowed down. Arrests and drug-related charges, I think we are going to see close to that same level, unfortunately.”
Leaders in the county trying to help people say more resources are needed to make a bigger impact in getting people treatment.
“I think we have a good start for resources,” said Springer. “I think there is always room for more. I know we don’t have enough beds, as far as treatment. I know our counselors are so overworked, we could use more there.”
Springer said there is one positive that may show educational programs and treatment centers are starting to turn the tide. Last year, first responders in the county administered life-saving naloxone 78 times to people who were overdosing. She said the number was much higher in 2016, but added the number may be down because the drug is available for people to purchase to take home.
The vigil was planned by Addicts Lives Matter, Souls Harbor Church, and the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition.