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Heroin use and overdoses on the rise in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A new federal health report reveals that across the country the rates for heroin-related deaths have tripled since 2010.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warns that heroin use is increasing even as use of other similar drugs level off.

In Indiana the numbers do not look much better.

“Once its used once that craving, that urge and desire is there and continues so there it creates an addiction to the drug,” said Carl Rochelle with Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (EMS).

It is an addiction that is increasingly turning deadly. The CDC report found heroin overdose deaths were on the rise in the Midwest, including here in Indiana.

The national report also found in 2013 that most deaths from the highly addictive drug occurred among white men, ages 18 to 44.

The Indiana State Department of Health says its statewide numbers match the national trend, with an increase of nearly three times the number of heroin related deaths since 2010.

Counties are trying to fight that growth. Marion County had 154 heroin overdose deaths last year and Tippecanoe County had seven heroin overdoses in the past two weeks, five of which were fatal.

“These are street drugs that people are getting from who knows. So you don’t know what’s in there, what it’s cut with (and) what the concentration is,” said Rochelle.

Tippecanoe County Coroner Donna Avolt says it is a trend we can not afford to ignore.

“It’s not just a segment of society that we would prefer not to think about, but it’s crossing all borders. It truly is,” Avolt said.

A drug called Narcan combats the effect of heroin. In 2014, Indianapolis EMS administered it twice as often as in 2013.

Rochelle calls it a miracle drug, but only if the signs of overdose are recognized before it is too late.

“Any time you have anyone that’s unconscious (and) you’re unable to arouse them? Definitely call 911,” he said.

Indianapolis EMS has treated 135 heroin overdoses this year.

They hope that public awareness of the dangers of heroin will help reduce the trend.