‘There is no silver bullet to fix the opioid problem’ was the message Hamilton County Coroner John Chalfin delivered during a Saturday morning forum hosted by the Carmel Christian Church.
During the forum, Chalfin, along with Rev. Jerry Zehr, Pastor of Carmel Christian Church and president of the Carmel Interfaith Alliance; Justin Phillips, Clinical Addictions Counselor Founder and Executive Director Overdose Lifeline, Inc.; Rev. Andrea Boutselis, Parents of Addicted Loved Ones; Michelle Sybesma, Chief of Strategy and Development at Parkdale Centers and Indiana State Senator Jim Merritt, discussed signs of drug use, securing medicine cabinets and drug takeback opportunities, resources for detox, treatment and recovery and recent legislation.
Chalfin reported last year his office investigated 36 drug overdose deaths that occurred in Hamilton County, and that figure may rise once investigations are completed on deaths that occurred late in the year.
Chalfin also stated the number may not portray a true picture. “If someone from Hamilton County has overdosed and they are transported to a Marion County hospital, and they die there, it becomes a Marion County case.”
Chalfin also noted problems with the way hospitals report deaths directly related to overdoses.
“Is 36 drug overdose deaths an epidemic? If it is your child, one is too many,” said the Coroner.
“We need a united front to fight this issue. Beat the doors down at the legislature and don’t be afraid to confront a family member or loved one if you think there is a problem,” stated Chalfin.
Nearly 100 people attended the forum on a morning with double-digit negative wind chill factors. In addition to many concerned residents that attended, the event caught the attention of several community leaders. Also attending were Sheriff candidates Jason Sloderbeck and Eddie Moore, Hamilton County Commissioner Mark Heirbrandt, County Councilman Fred Glynn, members of the Carmel City Council and Judge Gail Bardach, who presides over the county’s drug court.
When asked about Saturday’s turnout, Rev. Jerry Zehr said, “This is a very serious issue all around the country, it shows people care.”