INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — US drug overdose deaths rose in 2021 over 2020, although the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says those numbers are preliminary may be underreported.
More than 107,000 Americans died of drug overdoses last yearsetting another tragic record in the nation’s escalating overdose epidemic, the CDC estimated May 11.
Indiana overdose deaths rose by almost 400, from about 2,300 in January 2020 to more than 2,700 in December 2021, the CDC says.
Justin Phillips, executive director of the Indianapolis nonprofit Overdose Lifeline, says, “Overdose deaths are still drastically bad, people are still dying unnecessarily every day.”
Phillips sees a reason for optimism, though. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, overdose deaths of Hoosiers declined slightly over a two years, from 1,808 in January 2018 to 1,752 in January 2020.
She said, “We’ve come a long way since 2015 when we passed a law allowing for people to have access to Naloxone, but we still have stigma, we still have communities that don’t want us to have a NaloxBox,” a storage system for naloxone. The drug can reverse overdoses from opioids. In 2021, Overdose Lifeline partnered with the Indiana governor’s office to place those kits in every county.
‘We have distributed over 135,000 individual overdose-reversal kits across the state of Indiana,’ Phillips said.
On Monday night, the Indianapolis City-County Council will vote on a proposal to renew Marion County’s Safe Syringe program. The program started in 2019 as a way to discourage people from sharing needles, in an effort to reduce the spread of diseases like hepatitis and HIV.