By Noah Alatza
Hamilton County saw a record number of drug overdoses in 2018.
The county reported 18 overdoses in 2014. In 2017, 36 were reported. Last year, 38 confirmed overdose deaths were reported.
Hamilton County Coroner John Chalfin said last year, when 36 overdoses were reported, he found the names of 11 Hamilton County residents who had gone across county lines for treatment, meaning they would not be considered in HCCO’s jurisdiction.
Chalfin told Current in January 2018 that the reason overdose deaths are under reported is because his office has not been counting people who overdose in the Carmel and Fishers area, the county’s two most populated areas. Frequently, those people go to a Marion County hospital for treatment.
“More people are starting to do drugs, and more people are coming into the county,” Chalfin said. “So, you have more people coming into the county, and if you took a percentage of them doing drugs, that tells the story right there.”
Chalfin said his office is starting to see a shift from heroin and fentanyl to more methamphetamine use.
“The users accounting for drug deaths are just changing the agent they use,” he said. “What has happened nationwide is you have this drug epidemic – 74,000 died of drug overdoses last year. That’s more than 13 years of (the) Vietnam (War),” he said. “Imagine what that has done to the very few forensic labs that test for (drugs). They are swamped.”
Chalfin said the lab tests, which would usually take a week to 10 days to complete, now taking a month or longer.