Coroner seeks cause in suspected overdose deaths near Garfield Park

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INDIANAPOLIS — Three people were found dead in a Garfield Park neighborhood apartment in the 2700 block of South East Street early Saturday morning.

It may take the Marion County Coroner several weeks while awaiting toxicology test results to determine the causes of those deaths.

Through July 31st, Marion County was on a record pace for overdose deaths with 391 confirmed and fifty more suspected fatalities, compared with 363 deaths at the same time the year before.

Likewise, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services technicians are doling out doses of Naloxone in 2021 at last year’s record pace.

The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning today about, “fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine….More than 9.5 million counterfeit pills were seized so far this year, which is more than the last two years combined.”

It’s a trend that’s happening in central Indiana.

“We’ve run into some counterfeit pills,” said Chris Lane, Chief Deputy of the Bartholomew County Sheriffs Office, “and I know a few months ago there was some what people thought were Xanax which actually turned out when they went to the lab or field tested it had fentanyl in them.”

“They’re obviously being bought on the street or actually they’re being probably being purchased through the internet through the dark web and being mailed right to somebody,” said Lane. “They’re not getting what they think they’re getting so they may be thinking that it’s Xanax or oxycodone or something along those lines when it’s actually a counterfeit pill that is containing fentanyl.”

Ariel Scruggs, a therapist at Take Back Control, said some of her clients have knowingly turned to the much more lethal fentanyl because of the depth of their addictions or in pursuit of greater effect.

“We see a lot of people who may have originally started out taking pain pills, legal or illegally, who have turned to maybe heroin was the next step and then we are now seeing some are intentionally seeking fentanyl because they get more bang for their buck so some people see that these drugs are just stronger and seek them, some just it’s more financially feasible to obtain than the heroin or the pills,” she said. “I think they know the risks but the addiction outweighs healthy thinking patterns, so if you’re going through withdrawal or crave or want a substance to avoid something, I’ve had clients who have had people around them overdose and they want that drug because they know they can get very high on it.”

Shabbir Imber Safdar, Executive Director of The Partnership for Safe Medicines, said for the first time in his fifty year of study of fake medicines, every state in the U.S. has recorded a counterfeit medication death.

“That was the DEA’s key finding that two out of five pills they seized had a lethal amount of fentanyl. That’s worse than Russian roulette. That’s not one bullet in six. That’s two in five, that’s a forty percent death rate if you’re spinning the gun and that’s not good.”

He says not everyone who overdoses on counterfeit drugs has a substance abuse issue.

“You see college students who like football players who will actually have an injury, they want to try to get through the injury and they have a friend who will say well I have an oxy would you like one and they say yes and the friend doesn’t realize what he’s got is a fake pill.”

Anyone struggling with substance addiction in Indiana can dial 211 for assistance.

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