FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The opioid epidemic is no secret. “This is a different era. We are in the middle of a crisis of a national emergency. I think things have to amp it up a little bit,” Health Commission Dr. Deborah McMahan said.
Wednesday’s message was directed to parents. Most heroin addicts say it all started before they were 15 years old, many through what they found at home in the medicine cabinet. More and more teens are becoming addicted every day. “You talk to these parents that have lost their children and their hearts are broken. I don’t want to talk to another parent about their child dying because they took a drug that ended up killing them,” Captain Kevin Hunter, FWPD Vice/Narcotics, said.
2017 has already broken records when it comes to drug statistics. At this point last year, there were 550 drug poisonings. There have been 933 this year.
The total number of drug poisoning deaths last year was 68. That number is already at 73 for 2017. “That consistent message of drugs are bad and they can kill you and is a very important message and I don’t think you can say it early enough,” Hunter said.
Officials said one of the scariest parts of opiates is that in a lot of cases, it only takes one time. They encouraged parents to talk to their children or have them talk to their doctor; to not wait for a possibly fatal mistake.
“It can be life threatening even on the first use. That’s what’s so scary about the opiates that we’re seeing now and the spice that we’re seeing now. It’s not the drugs that were on the street 10 or 20 years ago. This is stuff that can kill you the first time you try it,” Ben Goldsberry, TRAA Director of Clinical Services, said.
Naloxone is a drug used to treat overdoses like. Emergency responders said they’ve used it on an alarming amount of children under 18 for the first time. “We’ve seen a dramatic increase over the past few years, you know, record numbers year after year. This year we’re already at 460 Naloxone administrations. 11 of those were age 18 and younger which is a scary new trend that we really hadn’t seen before,” Goldsberry said.
Almost half of the country’s teens incorrectly think prescriptions drugs are a lot safer than illegal street drugs. Officials said one of the scariest facts with opiates is that with many of the cases, the first time is fatal. Parents are encouraged to lock their medicine cabinets if they have pills in them and if their teen is on prescription medicine after a surgery to monitor their usage.
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