Substance Abuse Counselor Discusses Overdose Epidemic

Overdose awareness
The ribbons on the lawn at IU Health Starke Hospital represent local victims of overdoses over the past seven years.

Advocates and community members will pause tomorrow evening to remember the 61 lives lost to drug overdoses in the past seven years in Starke County. Aaron Kochar is a substance abuse counselor at Porter-Starke Services. He says methamphetamine used to be the biggest drug problem locally, but opioids and heroin have caught up.

Kochar says drug use is a significant problem.

“From 2008 to 2012, Starke County averaged eight deaths a year from substance use overdose. In 2013 it went up to 12 deaths. Now these numbers vary a lot, and in fact in 2014 it dropped to four. One is too many, and with this community it is a very significant impact.”

Kochar adds taking the stigma out of seeking help for substance abuse problems is critical. He says substance abuse is a disease and should be treated as any other medical condition or disease is treated.

Starke County’s Overdose Awareness event will take place at 6 p.m. tomorrow at Wythogan Park. It will include a candlelight vigil, education and testimony from a community member in recovery. Members of the public are welcome to attend.