More people overdosed in Howard County in 2017 than ever before

HOWARD COUNTY, Ind. -- More people overdosed in Howard County, Indiana in 2017 than any other year. 

According to a notice from Howard County Coroner Dr. Steven J. Seele, there have been 37 overdoses through Sept. 30, 2017, which surpasses the previous high of 34 overdoses in 2015.

"I don't want to be knocking on your families' doors to deliver these types of messages. It's not a pleasant thing to do," said Dr. Seele.

Opioids are a common topic across the country, and the State of Indiana. Seele said heroin deaths have actually decreased, while deaths due to fentanyl have increased.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid, sometimes prescribed for patients dealing with severe chronic pain, but over the past few years, increasing amounts of fentanyl derivatives have been manufactured illicitly and sold on the street.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that of the more than 64,000 US overdose deaths last year from any drug, more than 20,000 were attributed to synthetic opioids, many of them related to fentanyl and its variations.

Jason Nussbaum is in recovery at Gilead House in Kokomo. He's there because of his addiction to heroin.

"It's not worth losing your life, especially if you have children because you are paving a way for your child. My child is doing the same exact things that I did and is giving me a whole new outlook on what I did to my family," said Nussbaum.

Dr. Seele also said he is concerned about the increasing use of synthetic cannabinoids (spice), synthetic cathinones (bath salts) and "chemi," which is short for chemical. Seele said people use them as a way of preventing a positive urine test.

"The user is entering the land of the unknown when abusing these substances which can result in instant cardiac death," Seele said. "In some cases, we know based on our investigation that the death is the result from one of these substances, but it is often difficult to isolate illicit substances made in clandestine labs or from foreign sources."

In 2016, there were 26 overdose cases in Howard County.

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