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CDC: Overdose deaths across the state of Indiana decreasing

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Posted at 8:21 PM, May 17, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Overdose deaths are decreasing across the state of Indiana, according to the CDC.

“People are still overdosing, and people are still potentially going to die from overdoses, so understanding the resources available is crucial for these numbers to continue to go down,” said CEO & Founder of Overdose Lifeline, Justin Phillips.

Phillips says this is the second year in a row Indiana has seen overdose numbers decrease.

“It’s incredible and encouraging news. We've been working on this as a top priority since 2017. It's gratifying to see our work bear fruit," said Executive Director for Drug Prevention, Treatment and Enforcement and Chairman of the Indiana Commission to Combat Substance Use Disorder, Doug Huntsinger.

As hundreds across Indiana die from overdoses, more than 24,000 individual dosage units of the overdose reversal drug, Naloxone, is being pumped into communities per month.

It's through Overdose Lifeline and Grassroots organizations in partnership with Governor Eric Holcomb's office.

"We could not do this without them. We distribute 6,000 individual doses of the overdose reversal agent a week. It's tireless, but very rewarding work," said Phillips.

Nearly 600 free Naloxboxes and 18 vending machines are spread throughout 90 of the 92 counties.

They contain overdose kits and fentanyl test strips.

Overdose Lifeline said more than 122,000 kits have been distributed so far this year.

It's those resources state leaders attribute to saving lives.

"Never has there been a worst time in our country to think you're going to use a recreational type of drug," said DEA Special Agent in Charge, Michael Gannon.

Phillips says the Naloxone overdose reversal agents are not the solution.

“There is treatment and recovery, all the other pieces of the puzzle are crucial, but no one gets to recovery if they’re not alive. We have to save them first,” said Phillips.

The overdose death epidemic spiked in late 2020 and early 2021 following a rise in fentanyl.

Data from the Marion County Coroner's Office shows more people died in the county from drug related deaths than anything else.

Last year, the state saw the second highest decrease in drug related deaths across all 50 states.

“In 2022, there were 852 overdose deaths and with the great work that’s been going on with the DEA, IMPD, partnerships with the coroner’s office and everything like that, we were able to get that number in 2023 to 701,” said Gannon.

The state says while deaths are decreasing, overdoses are still happening every day.

"What's most important there is no one solution. This is a combination of many efforts," said Huntsinger. "Since 2017, we've increased access to treatment. Two million Hoosier Medicaid members are able to access treatment for substance abuse disorder. That's led to 385% increase in treatment beds and Nalaoxne efforts across the state."

You can find Narcan or Naloxone at most pharmacies and get it without a prescription.

You can find one of Overdose Lifeline's Naloxboxes and get it for free. Click here for a map of locations across the state.