United Way of
Porter County has released its findings on the current state of the opioid
crisis in Porter County and its place in the larger state and national
findings, as presented by Cara Jones, United Against Opioid Abuse program
* Drug overdose is
the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 50.
* From 2015 to
2017, Porter County saw nearly an 80-percent rise in opioid related deaths
and a 191-percent increase in heroin specific deaths.
rates for pharmaceutical opioids in Porter County peaked in 2012 at 107 per
100 people. It has since dropped to 89.9 per 100, which is nevertheless
significantly higher than the state average in 2016 of 83.9 per 100 and the
national average of 66.5 per 100.
* Porter County’s
overall drug overdose rate is in the top 6-percent of counties nationwide,
at 27.8 per 100,000 people; while its specific opioid overdose rate is in
the top 8 percent, at 14.3 percent. Porter County’s overall drug overdose
rate is the seventh highest of Indiana’s 92 counties, with LaPorte County’s
the ninth highest and Lake County’s the 12th highest.
* Porter County’s
opioid overdose rate of 14.3 per 100,000 people is higher than its car crash
rate (11.7 percent) and higher than its breast cancer rate (13.2). Its
overall drug overdose rate of 28 per 100,000 people is the same as its
diabetes rate (22.8) and the same as its stroke rate (28).
* Between 1999 and
2016, fatal opioid overdose rates in all demographics have increased. The
largest increase has been in the 25 to 34 age group, at 1,200 percent.
* There has also
been a surge of non-fatal opioid overdoses in Porter County. Between 2009
and 2016, non-fatal overdoses increased by 197 percent; and between 2015 and
2016 alone, non-fatal overdoses increased by 134 percent. The study
attributes many of the lives saved to the use of the Narcan, an emergency
anti-opioid treatment issued to all police departments in the county.
* In 2017 there
were 50 drug-related fatalities in Porter County, with 43 of them opioid-related.
The average age of the victim: 37. The age range: 20 to 64. Seventy-eight
percent of the victims were Porter County residents, and 58 percent died in
their own homes. By municipality: 38 percent of the victims were located in
Portage; 22 percent in Valparaiso; 16 percent in Chesterton; 8 percent in
South Haven; 4 percent in Burns Harbor; and 2 percent in Westville.
The study also made
the following recommendations for battling the opioid crisis:
* “We need to work
at having an accurate, common understanding of addiction.”
* “We need more
open honest dialogue that works towards normalizing addiction and mental
health, as well as giving people a vocabulary to discuss it.”
* “Trust needs to
be built and earned, and we need to make this effort with our neighbors and
with individuals in recovery.”
* “Honest, real
connections to make system-of-care fluid and easy to navigate.”
* “Better aftercare
and recovery programming.”
* “Harm reduction
needs to be approached in an honest, pragmatic way.”
The goal of United
Against Opioid Abuse initiative: to better understand the issues facing
addicts and their families, the resources available, and how to engage the
community in the solution.
“We’re making great
strides in establishing the context of our community’s situation,” said Kim
Olesker, president & CEO of United Way of Porter County. “Only a continuous
system of care can help resolve the crisis for Porter County and the Region.
As we move forward in developing solutions, we look for assistance from all
facets of the community to join us in the fight.”
Jones, as part of
United Against Opioid Abuse, has been working with community partners,
coalitions, and stakeholders to gather data, map existing resources and
services, identify service gaps, and create long-term collaborations to
address the crisis. Recently, United Way has developed a partnership with
Northwest Indiana Information Sharing & Security Alliance (NIISSA) to
continue the United Against Opioid Abuse work on a regional level. The
result is the newly formed Opioid Workgroup that will focus on finding
regional solutions to combat the opioid crisis.
effort will catalog existing resources, identify service gaps and utilize a
disaster response approach to develop solutions with the goal being to
reduce overdoses and fill substance abuse service gaps in Porter, Lake,
LaPorte, Jasper, and Newton counties.
Jones welcomes the
opportunity to share the United Against Opioid Abuse report with the public.
If interested in hosting a public presentation on this topic, email firstname.lastname@example.org
or call (219) 464-3538.
The United Against
Opioid Abuse Porter County Report is available at unitedwaypc.org