Opioids in Indiana: Why the Scott Co. Emergency is Better

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Opioids in Indiana: Why the Scott Co. Emergency is Better

The county health department administrator says state and federal tax money has been well-spent.

Scott County's story is part of a special called "Opioids in Indiana: There Is Hope". It will premiere Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m.

SCOTTSBURG, Ind.--When Scott County experience an HIV outbreak in 2015, most of the people who were coming in to exchange needles in the county's syringe service program were using Opana. Since then, the county health department has, with the help of the state, come up with ways to help keep people off of the drug.

"A lot of them were prescriptions at first. Then, Opana changed the way they made the pills, so they had to find other ways," said Michelle Goodin, Scoot County Health Dept. administrator. "Because when you would crush it up to try to snort it, it would become stringy and unusable. So, they kind of had to go to the method of injecting it."

That led to more people sharing needles and spreading diseases like HIV, and hepatitis. Then-governor Pence authorized a needle exchange program.

That is not a fix-all, though.

"Now Opana is very hard to get so a lot of people have started using meth or heroin, other drugs to substitute their original addiction to Opana."

But, some people are getting off of drugs. Goodin said that Narcotics Anonymous meeting are in both Scottsburg and Austin almost every night. She said the syringe service program, a.k.a. needle exchange, is set up to provide people with access to other services, like health insurance.

She said fewer people sharing needles has also meant a drop in the number of people getting diseases spread by shared needles.

And, because of the HIV outbreak and the opioid emergency, the people who precribe pills are being more careful.

"Physicians are becoming much more aware through programs like INSPECT that manages and tracks patients who have been prescribed opioids, so that way they can't doctor hop and go to a doctor outside of your county to get more prescriptions," said Goodin.

She said peer counselors are also available for people who are addicted.

"So, they get to talk to a peer who has been in active addiction and is now in recovery."

Goodin said the county has also filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the company that makes Opana.

PHOTO: Thinkstock/Backyard Production

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