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Panel discusses opioid epidemic in Marshall County

NOW: Panel discusses opioid epidemic in Marshall County

PLYMOUTH, Ind. - The opioid crisis continues to plague to country and Michiana. There have been some wins, but opioids are not going away and the crisis is far from over.

Tuesday night, Marshall County officials teamed up with Purdue University to talk about the problem. The panel tonight looked at what the county is doing to keep numbers low.

“We still have a lot of work to do on the recovery and treatment side. We always have work to do on the education side of this battle.”Matt Sarber, the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Marshall County said.

He joined experts in an opioid crisis panel. The Purdue Extension put together the panel for their annual meeting.

Opioid abuse is happening all over the country. In 2017, there were more than 47,000 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S. according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

In Indiana, there were more than 1,800 drug overdose deaths – a majority linked to opioids.

Sarber said in Marshall County the cases are up.

“In recent years we have seen an increase in the overall usage of heroin but mainly we’ve seen an increase in the crossover nature of the drugs,” Sarber said. “People are now using heroin and meth whereas in the past it was a linear track of you used meth or you used heroin but you did not use both in tandem.”

However, there have only been 4 opioid overdoses in Marshall County so far this year – one being a fetal death. And that’s compared to an average of 15 in past years.

“We’re down overall and I think that is thanks in part to the Narcan programs that we have in our area and also the general activity we have to be proactive to get people to come and seek treatment,” he said.

Tuesday night, the panel talked about what they’re still doing to fight back.

“We just want to make sure it’s prevented,” Karen Richey, the health and human sciences educator for Purdue Extensions said.

She said there are already programs to do just that - like “strengthening families.”

“Through our educational programs, working with families and whether it’s peer-pressure, goal-setting, how you communicate with youth and adults,” Richey said. “Those things are all the beginning pieces when things start going wrong and then you start turning to something different.”

And they want to get the word out to help more people

“Potentially then they will spread the word so that in the future we have fewer and fewer individuals who are getting into the heroin to begin with,” Sarber said.

The purpose of the panel is to educate not only the people who were in the room but to spread the message outside into the community.

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