FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WOWO): The Allen County Health Commissioner’s Office held a public hearing on a Syringe Service Program.
Indiana Attorney Gernal Greg Zoeller joined Allen County Health Commissioner Deborah McMahan to address the scope of the Opiate Crisis in the area, as well as look at the lessons learned from the outbreak in Scott County last year.
Zoeller is a co-chair for the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Task Force focused on stopping the overflow of addictive and deadly Opiates into communities.
Fort Wayne Police Captain Kevin Hunter said the scope of the problem is growing. In 2009, a little over 43 grams of heroin was seized in the area. By 2014, over 157 grams were seized, with the biggest growth between 2011 and 2013. They also note that there was a 37% increase between 2008 and 2012.
In comparison, in 2015, nearly 340 grams of heroin was confiscated during seizes. Hunter says the increased demand for heroin is largely being driven by prescription drug abusers switching to heroin because heroin is more available and less expensive.
Meanwhile Three Rivers Ambulance Authority Director Ben Goldsberry said a total of 349 overdoses happened in 2015.
Kellie Kelley, Public Health Coordinator with the Madison County Health Department shared their stats for a similar Syringe Exchange Program. Their site opened in August 2015, and since then 14,116 clean syringes were distributed, with 2,555 used syringes returned.
In the Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health information sheet, they determine that, “our community has experienced a 60 percent increase in Hepatitis C cases and a 30 percent increase in HIV cases over the past year.”
The department also noted that the cost of a syringe is less than 50 cents. One study found that for every dollar invested in a preventative SSP, $3 to $7 will be saved in treatment costs.