HAMILTON COUNTY — Communities across central Indiana came together ahead of International Overdose Awareness Day to honor those lost, offer support and discuss prevention strategies.
In 2020, Indiana saw a 50% increase in overdoses and a 32% increase in overdose deaths.
On Sunday, dozens of Hoosiers gathered at the Indiana State Museum for an event hosted by Overdose Lifeline, which included food, fellowship and a candlelight vigil. Families also shared photos of their loved one and spoke about their legacies.
In McCordsville on Saturday afternoon, families came together to walk in honor of loved ones lost to drug addiction.
"I'm sure that everybody knows at least one person who is currently addicted or has been," Annie Clark said. Clark explained that she came in part to honor her brother who died from an overdose in 2017.
Many of those at the walk wore shirts commemorating a loved one, and some held signs with pictures and messages of hope. The goal was the speak out on erasing the stigma attached to drug addiction.
Leaders with Hamilton County explained ways to tackle the overdose crisis. A recently formed Suicide and Overdose Fatality Team meets once a month to examine the root causes of the issues. The coalition includes representatives from public health, public safety, the court system, the coroner's office and local treatment facilities.
More than 50 Hoosiers in Hamilton County died from an accidental overdose in 2021 so far. In fact, about a fifth of all overdoses in the county are fatal.
"We're trying to provide more resources and get more people at the table so that we can have better ideas, bridge the gaps between different community agencies where maybe more could have been done to help these individuals who unfortunately have passed," said Sarah Richardson, a licensed mental health counselor and coordinator of the team.
The goal is to use data to target prevention. Hamilton County is one of 22 counties in the state with a Suicide and Overdose Fatality Review Team. And, Indiana is dedicating $1.3 million in additional funding to provide more of the overdose reversal drug, Naloxone.
International Awareness Day is Tuesday, Aug. 31.