Howard County just experienced the deadliest quarter for overdose deaths in recent years.
During the second quarter of 2020, which ran from April 1 to June 20, 15 residents died from drug overdoses, bringing the year’s total of overdose deaths to 24. Should the overdose deaths trend at the same pace during the last two quarters of the year, 2020 will be the deadliest year on record in terms of overdose deaths.
Since 2017, overdose deaths in Howard County were trending downward. 2017 served as the deadliest year on record for overdose deaths. That year, 44 residents died from overdoses. In 2018, 33 residents died from overdoses. In 2019, that number decreased further to 31.
Of the recent overdose deaths, 12 of the 15 were the result of opiates. Of the opiate cases, one involved heroin, and eight involved fentanyl. Methamphetamine was involved in three of the cases, and 10 cases involved non-opiate polysubstance abuse, which includes benzodiazepines and other non-scheduled legend prescription drugs. Two additional cases were pending toxicology results.
While overdose deaths are up, the Kokomo Police Department also has had an increase in calls and arrests related to drugs.
According to records from the KPD, there have been 382 calls related to drugs since Jan 1. Of those calls, 122 were related to overdoses.
There have been 313 drug-related arrests in 2020. In 2019, there were 280.
During the second quarter of the year, 309 Howard County residents died, and 83 of those deaths were investigated by the Howard County Coroner’s office. And of those, 48 toxicology reports were completed, at a cost of $69,604 to the county, along with 43 autopsies.
At a county council meeting in July, Seele said that the coroner’s office already had almost emptied its autopsy budget. Of the $175,000 budget for autopsies for the year, there was only $18,103 left.
The county council approved a request for $95,000 from Seele for the coroner’s autopsy budget.
In his press release, Seele reiterated that Howard County provides assistance to those dealing with a drug addiction.
“Howard County has options for those with drug addiction and mental health issues. Specifically, Turning Point – System of Care, which focuses on youth and families who are impacted by mental health and substance abuse disorders,” he said.
Turning Point – System of Care can be reached at 765-860-8365.