Indianapolis News and HeadlinesPublic Safety


'It’s an uphill battle': Leaders say overdoses across Indiana on the rise

Overdose Deaths
Posted at 11:14 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-09 00:36:37-04

JOHNSON COUNTY — It’s a struggle that communities across the United States are dealing with: overdoses and overdose deaths.

Johnson County is no exception.

Since January first of this year, the county has seen 11 overdose deaths, with nine testing positive for Fentanyl, according to Johnson County Coroner Michael Pruitt.

Six more deaths are pending toxicology reports. Pruitt said it's suspected half of those, too, will test positive for Fentanyl.

“It’s an uphill battle right now, the way I see it,” Pruitt said.

“Fentanyl has really become the predominant drug in Indiana and it’s even more lethal because it’s showing up in supplies where people aren't expecting to be using Fentanyl,” said Douglas Huntsinger, Indiana Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement.

RELATED | Advocate issues overdose warning after Marion County sees increase over weekend

Huntsinger continued, “All across our state we are seeing a rise in overdoses and overdose deaths, and that’s largely attributed to the fact that people are unintentionally taking Fentanyl.”

This week, the DEA warned of an “increase in mass-overdose events involving deadly Fentanyl.”

The DEA defines a mass-overdose event as when three or more overdoses occur at the same place or close in time. The agency reported it has happened already in at least seven U.S. cities.

“I would hope that people will listen more from that federal government authority that the situation is very dire,” said Executive Director of Overdose Lifeline Justin Phillips.

Phillip’s organization is one of several working to ensure resources are easily accessible in hopes of curbing the trend. Two of those resources are available through NaloxBoxes, which house both Naloxone kits and Fentanyl test strips.

Pruitt says education and information sharing, too, are important in this fight.

“People have to talk, and if people aren’t talking and paying attention to what’s going on with these types of things, then we’re never going to make any progress on this,” Pruitt said.

Johnson County is implementing several new resources when it comes to stopping overdoses in the community, including a newly formed overdose fatality review board and installing "Community Aide Boxes." The boxes will include lifesaving tools like Naloxone.

As for how many boxes and where they will be located, the Johnson County Health Department said it is in the assessment phase to determine answers to those questions.

Health leaders in Johnson County say they are looking into putting these boxes in government buildings, as well as hotels and motels. The health department is in the process of ordering supplies.

More Resources

If you or someone you know is dealing with a substance use-related emergency, call 911.

For more information on a recovery organization near you, visit the Indiana Recovery Network website.

You can call 211 for help 24/7 in Indiana. You can also call the Indiana Addiction Hotline at 1-800-622-HELP (4357).

To find where you can get Naloxone near you, click here.

To learn more about NaloxBoxes, click here.

To view more resources from NextLevel Recovery Indiana, click here to visit its website.

Learn More

Click here to learn more about substance use disorders.

Here is substance use disorder-related data from the state.