MONTICELLO — White County had a higher rate of opioid deaths last year than its neighboring counties, including Tippecanoe County.
The average death rate due to opioid drugs is 17 per 100,000 people, but in White County, it translates to 24 per 100,000 people, said Lynn Saylor, local coordinator for United Against Opioid Abuse.
Saylor spoke Monday to the Monticello Kiwanis Club about the increasing opioid problem in White County.
In 2015, the death toll from them was two people. It increased to three in 2016 and five in 2017.
But in 2018, it doubled to 10 deaths, she said.
The average age of deaths increased from 34 years old to 64 years old.
Saylor said some of that age increase may be through confusion by the elderly with many drugs and doctors, taking medicines incorrectly or mixing those that shouldn’t be mixed.
White County also has 73 opiate prescriptions per 100 residents, compared to Tippecanoe County with 64 per 100, Carroll County with 23 per 100 and Cass with 61 per 100.
In Indiana, places with high opioid use have the highest overdose rates, Saylor said.
In White County, half the problems are from locals and the other from outside, she said. She couldn’t explain why, but she speculated it could be because of the tourism.
However, “In Indiana, rural communities have surpassed rural communities” in opioid problems, she said.
The opioid problem is a national trend, and the United States had 5 percent of the world population but 80 percent of opioid use, Saylor said.
About 72,000 people died from drugs in the last year, most of it from opioids, she said.
“You are more likely to die of a drug overdose that by a car accident, and that’s true in Indiana as well as the rest of the country,” she said.
There’s no one reason for opioids being a growing problem.
There was the influx of cheap heroin from Mexico, but many people start through prescriptions, she said.
People often start with a prescription from an accident or any sort.
“Sports injuries are a big one,” she said.
Student athletes, their parents or their coaches often want the athlete back in action as soon as possible.
There are also kids who go through medicine cabinets for unused pills, and there is dental work.