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Death Toll Rises in the Tri-State Amid Meth Overdoses

A new variety of methamphetamine that is more potent than ever is sweeping through the Tri-State community.

Officials say that methamphetamine is the number one cause of death by overdose in Vanderburgh County. It’s a nationwide crisis that has made its way to the Tri-State, and officials are saying that they’re dealing with it at a faster pace than ever before.

According to the Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office, nearly every area of the Tri-State has been impacted.

“We’ve hit every zip code in the county, we hit young and old. We had ten people over the age of 60, so I mean this is not just a particular group of individuals overdosing, this is the entire community,” Vanderburgh County Coroner Steve Lockyear said.

In Daviess County Kentucky, meth arrests are happening daily.

“I’m currently incarcerated for meth abuse, I’ve been sentenced to four years. I have a really extensive record – I have prior felonies, trafficking meth, possession of meth, and manufacturing of meth,” inmate James Hagan told.

42-year-old Hagan says that he started using at the young age of 17 and was hooked. Currently serving time for meth, Hagan says it doesn’t matter who you are – the drug will take over.

“The drug doesn’t pick and choose who its victim is. For some people, it doesn’t end until they’re six feet in the ground,” Hagan explained.

The latest version of the illicit drug that’s flooding the Tri-State is cheaper than ever before.

Primarily imported from Mexico by major drug traffickers, “meth 2.0” is far more plentiful than the old home-cooked drugs made in homemade meth-labs.

“There’s a big market for it. Evansville is a sort of a hub, a distribution hub. We get a lot of stuff in from Louisville, Nashville, Chicago and Indianapolis that comes here for further distribution,” Sergeant David Eads of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Drug Task Force said.

Sgt. Eads says there’s a big problem, and his detectives have been working to combat the issue for years.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, around 1.6 million people reported using methamphetamine in the past year.

In Vanderburgh County alone, 53 people died in 2019 from meth-related overdoses. The Vanderburgh County Coroner says that primarily white men in their 30’s fall victim to the drug.

“Unfortunately there is a lot still coming in and we are using all the resources we can to try and get to it,” Sgt. Eads said.

Unlike opioids, there is no way to reverse the effects of a meth overdose, just as there is no medication approved that can treat meth addiction and the cravings it creates. For now, treatment for meth addiction consists largely of behavioral therapy.

Over the course of the last 10 years, 494 people have lost their lives directly in Vanderburgh County due to drug overdoses.

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