Officials: Indy has a growing heroin problem

INDIANAPOLIS - Public safety officials and medical professionals say that the city of Indianapolis has a heroin problem.

A meeting was held in the Indianapolis Metro Police Department Southwest District Wednesday to discuss the city's problem and how to handle Hoosiers who overdose on the drug.

At sobriety checkpoints across the city, IMPD officers said they're finding more drugged drivers than drunken ones.

On the city's northeast side Monday night, police encountered a vehicle stopped in traffic at 38th Street and Sherman Drive. According to the police report, officers found a 19-year-old Fishers man unresponsive, slumped over in the driver's seat, with a pale, blue complexion. Police said they found a syringe in his pocket and heroin residue in the car.

"Almost every time, we find the syringe is still on site. We find the syringe lying on the floorboard or still stuck in their arm," Sgt. Mike Duke said.

All EMS personnel carry an opiate or heroin antidote called Naloxone. The EMS crews said they have used it with increasing frequency to save overdose victims. Last year, Naloxone use increased by 17-percent last year from 2012. And already this year, Naloxone use is up 60-percent from 2013.

Emergency medical personnel said they are aiming to teach police officers how to inject Naloxone in a nasal-spray form to save lives.

EMS Deputy Medical Director Dan O'Donnell said that quick thinking on the first responders part could mean the difference between life and death.

"It's a safe drug to administer with really no harm. If a police officer can be there before EMS arrives and can do something, they could really save a life," Dr. O'Donnell said.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said that heroin isn't just an inner-city problem and that it's spreading to every social and economic demographic.

"We had 110 people die last year with heroin in their system. That was a dramatic increase. Last year, our officers took 30-percent more heroin off the street. And after talking with out counterparts across the nation, I don't believe we've seen the worst yet," Riggs said.

Along with training, the IMPD is currently crafting a policy that will provide guidelines for officers to follow when administering Naloxone.

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