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New stats released, Elkhart Co. community determined to fight opioid epidemic

“Prescription pads, foils, missing belts, missing spoons,” said Sam Callentine, President of Gweedos Purple Shamrocks.

A long list of items to look out for, but a hopeful crowd filled the Purdue Extension conference rooms in Goshen Monday for an open discussion about the opioid epidemic.

“We started looking around at some of the problems that America was having,” said Callentine.

“The opioid problem doesn’t just affect one social class. This is a wide range problem affecting many families in our community,” said Cpt. Jeff Siegel, Elkhart Co. Sheriff’s Dept.

And children are some of the most vulnerable. The same day that the Elkhart County Drug Free Partnership held their meeting to spread awareness of America’s opioid problem, new stats were released by the Indiana Youth Institute about children being at the center of the epidemic.

“The number of children being removed from their homes has increased significantly over the past 5 years. In fact it’s increased 58 percent,” said Tami Silverman, CEO Indiana Youth Institute.

Silverman says, in most cases, it’s younger parents who have become addicted to pain medications, usually causing either separation from their young ones or death.

“They’re usually 25 to 34,” said Silverman. “So there may be 2, 3, 4, 5, siblings together and finding placement for that number of young children is also very difficult.”

“I mean.. these were people that could have been you and I,” said Capt. Siegel.

But Silverman says the first step in changing the results of their data book begin at places like where this meeting was held. And that taking responsibility for the next generation is a top priority.

“We don’t want to wait 5 or 10 years and have the impact of this opioid crisis trickle down to all of these children,” said Silverman.

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