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The Journal Gazette

  • FILE – Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed speaks about plans to increase public safety, including fighting the opioid addiction.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017 1:00 am

Seminar slated on opioid crisis

Loved ones urged to attend April 22

FRANK GRAY | The Journal Gazette

One in four people know someone who is addicted to opioids.

Between 4,000 and 6,000 people in Allen County are using heroin, and perhaps 40,000 altogether are addicted to opioids.

In 2016, there were 804 overdoses in Allen County, including 82 in the first two months of the year. In January and February this year, there were 150 overdoses, nearly double the rate of last year.

In 2016, Allen County had 68 overdose deaths. In January and February this year, there were 25, not including 11 deaths where lab results have not come in.

Those were some of the numbers discussed Tuesday at a news conference by police and health officials at Citizens Square, emphasizing the severity of the opioid crisis and promoting a seminar.

The seminar, which will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 22 at the Public Safety Academy at 7602 Patriot Crossing, will discuss solutions and resources for anyone with an addiction or with a family member or friend with an addiction.

At the seminar will be representatives from Parkview Health, the Lutheran Foundation, Fort Wayne Police Department, Fort Wayne-Allen County Department of Health, NEAT Clinic, and Clean Slate, an addictions center.

Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said the department's goal is to increase access to overdose-reversal drug Naloxone, increase access to recovery services and decrease access to illegal drugs. She said the scope of the opioid crisis is unlike anything she's seen.

Shawn Fingerle, director of clinical services for Parkview, said 10 percent to 20 percent of admissions used to involve overdoses. Now it is 40 percent to 50 percent.

“We've opened our doors because of the crisis,” Fingerle said. “We'll treat people if they want it.”

McMahan said people who have family members suffering from addictions feel alone. “It's a place to go for a family that is struggling. The more alone you feel, the more you need to come.”

fgray@jg.net