Chesterton Tribune



Porter County declares October awareness month for heroin epidemic

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The Porter County Commission-ers joined the Porter County Health Department on Tuesday in proclaiming October as Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Month.

At the Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday, Health Department Nursing Director Connie Rudd read a proclamation urging elected officials, educators, health providers and community leaders across Porter County to support and implement programs to alleviate the “epidemic” of heroin use.

Rudd said one of her nurses who serves on the Porter County Substance Abuse Council, Jenny Harkel, came to her saying “that something needs to be done” about the alarming number of deaths caused by opioid-related overdoses.

“This is a huge, huge issue,” said Rudd.

Recently in August, several officials came together to meet as opioid abuse and heroin epidemic stakeholders, including Sheriff Dave Reynolds and two of his jail staff, State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, a staff member from U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly’s office, Porter County Superior Court Judge Julia Jent, County Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North, and County Council member Sylvia Graham, D-at large.

Rudd said the group discussed in-depth ways for agencies to partner together and checked to see what gaps in services existed for people who struggle with opioid and heroin addiction.

They also developed the proclamation, with the Health Department, which Rudd read into the Commissioners’ meeting minutes.

“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indiana State Department of Health and the Porter County Health Department with the elected officials in Porter County classify the overuse and abuse of heroin and opioid drugs as an epidemic,” the proclamation said.

“The Stakeholders are encouraging medical doctors and care providers to consider alternative options as a first line of unified defense by implementing safe practices in pain management as well as opioid abuse prevention and addiction support to address the crisis.”

The more collaboration among stakeholders and the public, the better chances for success to empower opioid abusers to overcome their addictions, Rudd said. Joining her at the Commissioners’ meeting were other representatives of the Health Department and personnel from Porter Regional Hospital.

“Let us assure everyone with an opioid abuse disorder that they can embark on the road to recovery and together let’s begin to turn the tide of this epidemic,” Rudd continued in the proclamation. “We strive to keep reaching to implement better policy and deliver more resources that we so desperately need.”

Rudd said October is also National Substance Abuse Awareness Month. “This would coincide with that and we wanted Porter County to put an exclamation point on this huge issue,” she said.

If residents find any unused prescriptions in their medicine cabinets, every police department in Porter County will accept and dispose of them, Rudd said. She said the health department also has Narcan kits that can revive overdose victims and the department can instruct residents how to use them.

On a related note, the Commissioners approved a six-month contract with a support analyst to assist with the Sheriff’s Department’s heroin overdose project to help identify persons bringing drugs from around the Chicago area and into Porter County.



Posted 9/21/2017




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