Addiction in Terre Haute, Indiana
Terre Haute, Indiana is the county seat of Vigo County and located near the state’s western border with Illinois on the Wabash River. Terre Haute is a moderately-sized city with an estimated population of 60,774 inhabitants. Like many other towns across the country, Terre Haute is currently struggling with high rates of substance abuse, particularly the misuse of opioids and heroin.
The Opioid Epidemic
The entire state of Indiana is in the midst of an opioid crisis, and Terre Haute has not been spared of its devastating effects. Indiana is one of the few states in the country that has more opioid prescriptions written by providers per year than residents. According to a 2015 survey performed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 109 pain killer prescriptions written for every 100 people within Indiana. As opioid addiction rates worsened, state officials cracked down on opiate prescribing practices and “pill mills,” causing many Terre Hautens to turn to heroin as an easier-to-obtain and cheaper alternative to prescription pills.
As heroin became more prevalent in the community, so did rates of overdose. Recent statistics released by the Indiana State Department of Health show that from 2015 to 2017, Vigo County annually averaged 26 fatalities per year due to opioid overdoses. The majority of those deaths were linked to an influx of heroin that was mixed with fentanyl, a drug that is 50-100 times more powerful than morphine. In response to the rising overdose rates, Terre Haute Fire Department ambulances have started carrying naloxone, commonly known as the intranasal Narcan, in the likely event that they encounter a heroin overdose. A single dose of naloxone is intended to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose when administered to a person experiencing nervous system and respiratory failure. Most police officers in Vigo County also carry the life-saving drug while on duty and have been or will be trained to administer Narcan.
The number of overdose deaths has dramatically decreased in Vigo County over the past year and can widely be accredited to the use of the overdose antidote. However, during the last few months of 2018, police started encountering something even more potent than fentanyl – toxic batches of heroin laced with the elephant tranquilizer carfentanil. The mixture, called “Gray Death,” can cause almost instant death from even momentary exposure.
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The Prevalence of Meth Abuse in Terre Haute
While opioid abuse is a major concern for Terre Haute, officials say that meth still ranks as the top illegal substance of choice amongst the city’s drug users. Methamphetamine is a synthetic stimulant that affects the central nervous system, causing heightened energy, rapid or irregular heartbeat, delirium, panic, and even psychosis. Meth abuse has been prevalent in southwestern Indiana for many years, particularly in Evansville and Terre Haute, and continues to be a problem. According to the Meth Free Indiana Coalition, meth is estimated to cost the state more than $100 million annually in drug-related expenses.
Indiana ranks first in the country for number of clandestine methamphetamine labs, and Vigo County ranks second in the state for number of meth labs seized by the Methamphetamine Suppression Section of ISP. Dubbed a “mom and pop” industry by local officials, meth production has continued to flourish in the rural areas of Terre Haute despite the federal and state laws that prohibited the sale of pseudoephedrine – the essential ingredient in meth – without a prescription. The majority of meth labs found today are called “one pot” labs that have become popular due to the fact that this type of production requires less ingredients, resources, and time than traditional clandestine labs. Law enforcement officers in Indiana have found that the primary motivation of these labs has been to support a personal addiction rather than to create a market for sales. However, the presence of the labs creates sources and opportunities for obtaining the drug in the community.
Methamphetamine is currently the primary consumer of law enforcement resources in Indiana. During the year of 2017, ISP made 988 arrests statewide in relation to meth labs. Terre Haute jails are starting to become overcrowded due to the influx of meth and other drug-related incarcerations.
Eighty percent of the people incarcerated in Vigo County are in there for drugs or because of drug-related crimes. Most of the 80 percent are in jail because of their involvement with methamphetamine.
State and local law officials are banding together to better monitor the production, trafficking, sale and use of the drug. Additionally, programs such as Access to Recovery, a treatment and recovery service dedicated to helping individuals with methamphetamine addictions find affordable care, hope to reduce meth abuse rates by providing easily-accessible treatment resources.
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Terre Haute Substance Abuse Statistics
Over the past 15 years, opioid abuse and addiction has cost the state of Indiana over $43.3 billion.
Over 5.8 million opioid prescriptions were written by Indiana health care providers during the year of 2015.
Indiana’s youth painkiller use has long been above the national average. From 2013-2014, 27,000 adolescents misused prescription pain medications.
Getting Help Now
Getting treatment is one of the most important life changes someone battling with addiction can make, and it’s crucial that someone know all their options before making a decision. Terre Haute is home to multiple residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment program facilities, and there are countless more throughout the state of Indiana. If you are someone who is struggling with addiction, whether it be to prescription pain medications or illicit substances, please contact a dedicated treatment professional today.