Fort Wayne Quality of Life Initiative directly confronts opioid crisis

FORT WAYNE, In (WOWO): Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry was joined by representatives from the Lutheran Foundation, the Fort Wayne Police Department and the City of Fort Wayne Community Development Commission to announce the implementation of another key component of the Quality of Life Initiative which was approved last October.

The partnership with the Lutheran Foundation is focused on directly addressing and confronting the opioid crisis in Allen County and involves a $200,000 grant that will be used to help underwrite Allen County’s Sober Living Pilot, which is a program that was launched in July of 2019 to help people in the criminal justice system who are battling a substance abuse disorder. The overall goal is to reduce recidivism and promote long-term, sober living through inpatient and outpatient treatment.

Allen County’s drug epidemic includes an estimated 6 to 10 thousand intravenous drug users and an overall estimate of 60,000 individuals abusing opioids. This floods the criminal justice system with first time and repeat drug offenders who are unable to break the cycle of addiction. As a result, residential and out-patient sober living organizations in the community cannot keep up with demand.

The Fort Wayne Police Department received a $300,000 grant to purchase new drug testing equipment which will enable faster and more accurate tests on substances, which will in turn, expedite more precise medical treatment. This will put the Fort Wayne Police on the cutting edge of drug testing that they previously had to rely on the Indiana State Police to complete for them.

In 2019, the FWPD set a record for methamphetamine seizures with 14.28 pounds seized. The methamphetamine was considered 98 percent pure, extremely cheap and very addictive. The FWPD also saw a large increase in THC Wax, with 7.49 pounds seized. The danger of THC Wax is that consuming high concentrations of THC products can cause psychotic episodes and even schizophrenia. THC is considered even more dangerous for young adults whose brains are not fully developed until age 26. While the City’s non-fatal drug overdoses are down 22 percent for 2019, there were a record number of overdose deaths in 2019. There are currently 132 confirmed overdose deaths, with 22 pending toxicology reports. The previous record was in 2017 with 127 overdose deaths.

This second component of the Quality of Life Initiative follows an earlier announcement of a grant to Easter-Seals/ARC for job training.

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