Hendricks County
2019 Opioid Report


What are opioids?

Opioids are a class of drug that includes powerful pain medications, such as oxycodone, morphine, and fentanyl. The illegal drug heroin is also an opioid. Some opioids are derived from opium poppies, while others are synthetic.

Increasingly, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are illegally manufactured and distributed alongside or mixed with heroin. Many opioid-related deaths involve more than one type of drug.

Doctors prescribe opioids because the drugs are highly effective as painkillers. But they are also highly addictive and pose a serious risk of overdose if misused. Misuse includes taking opioids that are not prescribed, taking more than the prescribed amount, and changing the method of ingestion (such as snorting as opposed to swallowing). 

How did the crisis begin?

Many experts trace the roots of the opioid crisis to the overprescription of opioid pain relievers, beginning in the late 1990’s. Health experts now recognize that prescription opioids are dangerously addictive. Many doctors have taken steps to limit opioid prescriptions, and prescription rates have decreased every year since 2010.

But legal prescription opioids are just one side of the epidemic. Even as the prescription opioid supply is constrained, the illegal supply has rapidly expanded to meet the demand. Heroin and black-market fentanyl are often cheaper and more accessible than legal prescription opioids. 

Indiana Overview

From 2006 - 2012, opioid prescriptions rose significantly in the state of Indiana, peaking at 110.5 perscriptions per 100 people. 

By 2017, this rate had improved by reducing opioid prescriptions to 74.2 per 100 people.

Click the play button at the bottom of any chart to view the data changing over the timeline.

Opioid-Specific Overdose Deaths in Indiana - Demographic Comparisons

When dividing the crude rate of opioid-specific overdose deaths in Indiana by sex, age, race and ethnicity, we observe that:

-Males died by opioid-specific overdose at just over twice the rate than females.

-25-34 year olds died by opioid-specific overdose at a higher rate than other age categories.

-There was no significant difference between the rate of white people and the rate of black people who died by opioid-specific overdose.

-Non-Hispanic people died by opioid-specific overdose at twice the rate of Hispanic people.

Studies have shown that prescription opioid use is a strong predictor of later heroin use.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "among new heroin users during 2000 to 2013, approximately three out of four report having misused prescription opioids prior to using heroin."

Pain reliever misuse in Indiana varies by age, with the highest rate of misuse (8.82%) by 18-25 year olds. People 12-17 years old in Indiana, perceive trying heroin once or twice to be less of a risk than those 18 years or older. Approximately 34,000 people 18 years or older in Indiana tried heroin in the past year.

Approximately 7.58% of 12-17 year olds, 23.72% of 18-25 year olds, and 9.53% of 26+ year olds used illicit drugs in the past month (including heroin). But, when factoring out marijuana, these numbers drop significantly for all age groups, which suggests that many of those using illicit drugs choose to use marijuana.

Despite the amount of people using illicit drugs, few of these people are seeking or receiving the help that they need to enter into recovery. More people seek or receive treatment for addiction to legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco than for addiction to illicit substances or pain relievers.

Indiana ranks 16th out of 50 states for people needing but not receiving treatment for (legal) substance use, and 10th out of 50 states for people needing but not receiving treatment for illicit drug use.

Opioids in Hendricks County

Hendricks County has also experienced the tragic effects of the opioid epidemic. 

From 2006 - 2012, following the state trend, opioid prescriptions rose significantly in Hendricks County, peaking at 92.8 perscriptions per 100 people.

By 2017, this rate had improved by reducing opioid prescriptions to 65 per 100 people.

18-35 year olds are the highest age category for people in Hendricks County who are dying by drug overdose.

-In 2018, preliminary data shows that 25 people died from drug overdose in Hendricks County, 17 of which included any opioid.

-In 2019, preliminary data shows that 18 people died from drug overdose in Hendricks County, 9 of which included any opioid.

Drug overdose / poisoning death data clearly shows that opioids contribute to more deaths than any other substance in Hendricks County:

As opioid use has increased in Hendricks County, so has the incidence of diseases that are often contracted through use of injected substances or use of contaminated needles.

Thanks to local prevention education, the passing of Aaron's Law, and the prevalence of Naloxone (an overdose reversal medication used in emergencies) in the community, overdose deaths have decreased in Hendricks County in the past two years.

HCHD distributed 186 Naloxone kits in the county between the years of 2016-2019.

Charts exhibiting Hendricks County data as compared to neighboring counties in Indiana is available upon request.

We are happy to see improvement not only in overdose death and hospitalization data related to opioids, but also in less opioid prescriptions being dispensed in Hendricks County.


Part of the fight against the opioid epidemic is ensuring that those who have the disease of addiction or a substance use disorder can connect with the treatment and recovery resources available in their own community.

The Hendricks County Community Resource Guide, curated and maintained by the Hendricks County Health Partnership, contains a list of every addiction counselor, treatment facility, and recovery program in the county. Click here to view the list and share it.

Wondering what you can do to help? 

One of the best things you can do is the small, every-day task of reducing the stigma surrounding addiction. Oftentimes, the words we use and the attitudes we adopt have a significantly negative effect on people who might be afraid of asking for help. We use words like "addicts" and "junkies", which dehumanizes and isolates our neighbors who have the disease of addiction. 

Instead, try using words and phrases that are "person-centered".  Shatter Proof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to reversing the addiction crisis in America, has a great destigmatizing language guide on their website for your reference. 

Another great way you can help is by financially supporting local service providers or support group organizers that are working hand in hand with people starting their recovery journey. Your generosity can make a world of difference to people seeking help right here in Hendricks County. If you cannot support financially, we encourage you to consider getting involved with the Hendricks County Substance Abuse Task Force, a local group of professionals and community members that meets monthly to collaborate in the effort to prevent addiction and facilitate recovery for Hendricks County residents.