The numbers associated with Indiana’s opioid epidemic are staggering — a 136 percent increase in drug overdose deaths, 3,000 emergency room visits a year for nonfatal overdoses, thousands of children flooding the state’s foster care system because their parents abuse drugs.
But the crisis is about much more than the numbers. It’s first about people.
The Evansville Courier & Press, along with the Indianapolis Star and other Gannett news outlets in this region, is launching a yearlong exploration of an epidemic that grips our cities, suburbs and small towns. It’s important to see those affected by opioids for who they are and for all that they’ve suffered.
Opioids cost Kristi Nelson her son, Bryan. He was only 20 years old when he died from an overdose in 2009.
“I think it’s closer to home than people think,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t discriminate against family or friends or loved ones.”
Kristi Nelson’s heartbreak is shared by hundreds of families a year across our state. Parents lose their sons and daughters. Children lose their mothers and fathers. We all lose neighbors far too soon. The human cost is devastating. The community cost in terms of lost human potential is incalculable In response, state and local governments, as well as nonprofits and other organizations, have poured millions of dollars and other resources into the fight against opioid abuse.