Increased heroin availability, and use, is on the rise locally. Bartholomew County Sheriff Matt Myers says that Columbus, as well as the rest of the county, is not immune.
Sheriff Myers says that within a 48-hour period, early Sunday to early Tuesday, there were three suspected heroin overdoses in Bartholomew
County, one of them fatal. In all three of the overdose calls that deputies responded to, Narcan was administered to the subject, according to the Sheriff. Narcan is a highly effective opioid antidote that blocks the effects of an overdose. “Sheriff’s deputies have used Narcan eight times since April, 2015,” said Myers. He notes that seven people were saved, while Tuesday morning’s death was the first time that the subject was not revived. Myers says that a 21-year-old Bartholomew County woman passed away after first-responders were unable to resuscitate her.
“The cause of death is presumed to be a drug overdose possibly involving ‘bad heroin’,” said Myers. He says that there is also a possibility that an “ultra-potent” type of heroin has been unleashed locally. The Sheriff describes this kind of heroin as being “so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly.” He adds that if so-called “bad heroin” is coming into Bartholomew County, law-enforcement must learn where it is coming from.
Sheriff Myers stresses that this is not a job for law-enforcement alone. “Families and friends must step up to save the lives of their loved ones,” he pleaded. “Even if they have already given up on these people, don’t let them die. Find out where they are getting this stuff and call the Sheriff’s Office,” said Myers.
To drive home the point that heroin is infesting Bartholomew County, Sheriff Myers shared the following information related to heroin bookings at the Bartholomew County Jail:
2014: 12 heroin bookings;
2015: 21 heroin bookings;
During the first two months of 2016: Seven heroin bookings.
Myers says that addicts will take tremendous steps to get the fix of their drug of choice. He pointed to a recent incident where a prisoner inside the jail suffered an overdose. “Although our Corrections staff does an excellent job searching inmates and their property at Intake, to the extent that the law allows, recently, Narcan was administered and saved the life of an inmate who overdosed,” said the Sheriff.
Myers says that his office has been in contact with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to discuss the heroin problem. “We have been told that this problem will get much worse before it gets better,” he said. With that, Myers stresses that heroin is “our number one priority, just as it is for the DEA, FBI, and Indiana State Police.” He adds that the meth problem is more predominant in our area, but he says that the heroin problem is “killing people.”
Despite the uptick in heroin use and suspected overdoses, Myers says that Bartholomew County has not yet reached “crisis-mode.” He notes that the Joint Narcotics Enforcement Team (JNET) is working around the clock. JNET is a joint effort of the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department, Columbus Police and the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s Office. Myers again stresses that law-enforcement cannot do this job alone. “Now it is time for families and friends to step up and reach out to their loved ones,” said the Sheriff.
To aid in the fight against drug abuse and overdoses, the Sheriff’s Department is urging those who are hooked on drugs, or have loved ones who are addicts, to view “Chasing the Dragon.” Myers describes the 45-minute video as a look into the life of opioid addicts. “It is heart-wrenching but should be viewed by every parent, teacher, grandparent, or anyone else who cares about others,” said the Sheriff. You can find the video online at http://1.usa.gov/1TQ9yK0.
Myers says that heroin addicts have two choices: “They die, or go to jail, unless families and friends get them help now.”