It is no secret that opioid use in Indiana has continued to rapidly increase over the last several years. A couple of years ago, it was not uncommon to hear of daily deaths from opioid use in several of the small surrounding counties right here in our Hoosier state. Opioid overdoses nationwide have quadrupled since 1999. 

According to the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, “In 2017, over 1,700 Hoosiers died from a drug overdose.” This is an all-time high for the state and a 75% increase since 2011.

Julia Apple, administrator and environmental health specialist at Rush County health department shared that she herself witnessed an overdose in Henry County and, even though she did not know this individual, it was too close to home for her. She and the members of Rush County Health Department saw the toll this epidemic was taking on Hoosiers across all 92 counties in the state and decided to join forces to try to tackle this widespread trend. The health department applied for a grant through the Indiana State Department of Health to become an approved county to administer Naloxone. 

Naloxone, also known by the name brand Narcan, is a non-narcotic that is an antidote for opioid overdoses. If Naloxone is administered in a timely manner, it can reverse the life-threatening respiratory failure that is usually the cause of overdose death. It has been proven effective in reversing overdoses caused by heroin, as well as prescription medications.

Recently, the health department got word that Rush County had been awarded the Opioid Rescue Kits in the form of Narcan nasal spray. Apple expressed her feelings: “We understand that opioid overdoses might not be as prevalent here in Rush County, but they certainly are in our surrounding counties. Even one death is too many and we are excited to be able to have this available here in Rush County!” 

Apple stated the Rush County Health Department's plans with the State grant, “We currently have limited doses and want to do what is very best for our citizens!” She shared that this Spring, the Health Department will begin educating and distributing the Naloxone to City and County workers, as well as school staff. Eventually, as more doses are dispersed, they would like to be able to offer scheduled trainings and doses to the public. 
For more information, please reach out to the Rush County Health Department at 765-932-310. Employees in the Health Department would also like to remind Rush County citizens that they are open daily to the public but strongly encourage making appointments for them to better be able to serve your needs!