KOKOMO, Ind. -- There are fewer people dying from drug overdoses in Howard County, according to a new report from the coroner's office that shows the numbers have been going down since 2017.
44 people died of a drug overdose that year. In 2018, 34 people died of such causes. In 2019, the coroner recorded 31 overdose deaths.
The last quarter of 2019 has shown significant improvement with only three overdose cases. This is the lowest overdose fatality quarter in over three years.
Howard County Coroner Dr. Steven Seele attributed the continued decline as a direct result of the efforts put forth by local officials, the actions of law enforcement and an organization called Turning Point.
"So many times, the family members did not know these resources are available, and now they can turn for the help, and I think that message is getting out," said Seele.
Olivia Wenisch came to Turning Point in Kokomo nine months ago after she was released from jail, and she's been sober ever since.
She has been in jail four times because of her addiction to meth. Turning Point connects people struggling with drug abuse or mental health to resources in the community.
"Any barrier that I came up against, we were able to knock it down together, and that is what they have been for me is another family, and a safe place to be," Wenisch said.
Paul Wyman is the president of the organization's board.
"Not only the interest but the need has been there," said Wyman. "Our whole point in forming Turning Point was to curb the overdose deaths we were seeing in Howard County."
Turning Point opened in mid-2018.