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Overdose Lifeline expands youth drug prevention program as death cases rise

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Deaths from meth and cocaine laced with synthetics have surpassed prescription opioid deaths according to data from the National Institute for Health Care Management.

Native Americans are leading growth in meth overdose deaths, and Black people are leading growth in cocaine overdose deaths. Overdose LifeLine is a non-profit that provides substance abuse disorder support. More young people are experiencing childhood traumas that can make them more susceptible to try out drugs.

When the pandemic began in early 2020, overdoses began to spike. With countless children home from school, many watched it happen.

“Some of these kids have experience the loss of a caregiver. Some of these kids have been removed from their parents. All of this compounds on their experience of trauma,” Overdose Lifeline CEO, Justin Phillips, said.

In 2020 Overdose Lifeline rolled out Aaron’s Place: Exchange for young people ages 13 to 18 who have experienced adverse childhood related trauma stemming from substance abuse disorder. This is a program inspired by the Ohio based program Camp Mariposa, which now has an Indianapolis branch.

“The sooner we can intervene and provide intervention services, the better,” Phillips said.

According to data from the NIHCM, meth and cocaine overdosed deaths climbed across all ethnic groups, but Native Americans and Black people say the highest spikes.

“Understand that because you have a family member with substance abuse issues does not mean that’s the path you need to take,” Phillips said.

When children experience substance abuse related childhood trauma, Phillips said their chances of trying out drugs go up. With synthetic stimulates showing up in various drugs, it’s even more dangerous.

“Currently, the drug supply is very dangerous. Almost everything people are purchasing has fentanyl, which is 100 times more potent and very deadly.

So far, 45 young people have gone through the program, and there’s still more to come.

Overdose LifeLine is accepting referrals to the program and is looking for transportation support.