FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) The opioid problem in Allen County has hit epidemic proportions. Community leaders gathered Friday morning to discuss the issue and what they’re doing to help lessen the impact.
“I’ve been a police officer over 27 years now. I’ve never seen the addiction rate and the overdoses and the deaths that are associated with any drug like what we’ve seen with heroin and Fentanyl in this area, and actually nationwide,” Fort Wayne Police Captain Kevin Hunter said.
Heroin doesn’t discriminate.
“It could be anybody. It could be your daughter. It could be your next-door neighbor,” Hunter said. “It could be your mom or dad.”
For Andrea Schroeder it was her daughter.
“My daughter overdosed on heroin on October 22, 2016. She lived for a week on life support and died October 29,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder shared her daughter Miriah’s story at a luncheon put together to raise awareness and educate the community about the opioid epidemic. Miriah was 27 and just getting over a bad break-up when she tried heroin for the first time in May, according to her mother. She started spiraling out of control around July and her family stepped in.
“A couple of days before she passed away she told me, ‘Mommy, I don’t think I’m going to make it out of this. It’s just too strong.’ She was even supposed to go to rehab. We had that set up but she never made it,” Schroeder said.
It’s something Schroeder never thought she would have to face: losing her daughter to addiction.
“A year ago around Christmas time if I would have told here, ‘Miriah, you’re going to die of a heroin overdose.’ It just seems unreal because she’s smart, she’s from a good family, she is a mother of three beautiful girls. It just doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to anybody,” Schroeder said.
Miriah is just one of about 80 people who died from overdosing on drugs in Allen County this year, and Hunter said putting a stop to it starts with education.
“We’re going to have some educational programs in the near future to try and help families understand what this is and what it’s about,” Hunter said.
The county also set up a needle exchange program to help prevent the spread of disease between drug users. While that program isn’t designed to stop drug use, it is designed to lessen the harm.
“It’s an epidemic,” Shroeder said. “It’s everywhere.”