Howard County reporting progress in fight against opioids

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KOKOMO, Ind. – There’s good news out of Howard County, where officials say they are getting a leg up on the opioid crisis that has plagued people there for years.

Compared to this time last year, overdose deaths are dropping overall and some officials say a new county program has had a hand in that success.

“We’re sitting at 26 confirmed overdoses compared to 38 that we had last year at this same time,” said Howard County Coroner Dr. Stephen Seele, who is encouraged by the positive trend.

Last year was Howard County’s deadliest for drug-related overdoses with 44 fatalities.

“Trending wise I think we’re heading in the right direction,” said Seele.

He thinks much of the success comes from two different fronts: widespread availability and use of Narcan, for in-the-moment emergencies, plus “Turning Point,” a county program launched in May of this year for longer-term care.

“It’s a community collaboration that really formed in order to help anyone with mental health or addiction issues,” said Turning Point Family Navigator Sherry Rahl.

It’s essentially a one-stop-shop for anyone looking to get clean and move their life back on the right path. The drop in overdose deaths gives Rahl reason for hope.

“Each one, reach one,” said Rahl, “and we’re pulling them out one at a time…one crisis at a time.”

The positive trend in Howard County comes against national numbers which still paint a grim picture of addiction. In 2017, it’s estimated around 72,000 people died from drug-related overdoses.

Still, in Howard County those facing the crisis every day hope the success they’ve made continues.

“There is a stigma, it is still an issue,” said Rahl, “it’s still relevant, and we still have a long ways to go.”

For more information on Turning Point, check out the website of the Howard County Family Service Association.

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