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An opioid epidemic. High smoking rates. Health care provider shortages. Indiana faces serious public health challenges. Side Effects Public Media provides in-depth coverage of these issues and more.

Indiana Overdose Deaths Continue To Mirror National Trends

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Deaths from drug overdoses have continued to increase in Indiana, mirroring national trends reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

According to the CDC report, the national drug-related death rate has increased more than two and a half times since 1999.

In that same time period, state health department numbers show drug overdose deaths in Indiana have gone up 570 percent.

Tim Kelly is the director of Addiction Treatment Services at Community Health Network and says the numbers don’t surprise him. Even though the medical community is working to prevent new addicts by regulating and monitoring prescriptions, he says thousands still seek reliable treatment.

“It’s not as easy to just walk away from an opioid addiction as people think, without treatment, for example, there’s a very low success rate of beating an opiate addiction,” Kelly says.

Increased access to naloxone, syringe services programs and changes to the state’s INSPECT prescription drug monitoring system have, as of yet, not resulted in reducing the number of opioid and heroin-related overdose deaths, which rose 10 and 40 percent respectively between 2014 and 2015.

However, since the state’s most recent data is from 2015, it might not yet reflect these recent legislative and regulatory changes.

Deaths from virtually every drug category tracked by the state health department went up between from 2014 to 2015.