- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 16, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Emergency room visits for non-fatal drug overdoses rose by nearly 60 percent in Indiana during a recent five-year period, to almost 3,000 visits statewide, according to a new report from the state Department of Health.

The report shows deadly overdoses rose by an average of 3.5 percent each year from 2011 to 2015, peaking at over 270 deaths in 2015, The Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/2pSjKXo ) reported. At least 365 people died from drug overdoses in 2016, according to health department statistics.

The report also found that soft-tissue infections from intravenous drug use more than doubled in the same time frame.

State health officials said the county-by-county report can help officials find better ways to address the drug problems locally.

“It’s very telling to be able to put the data together in one place,” said Pam Pontones, deputy health commissioner. “I think that really helps to tell the story, especially when looking at trends over time. You can think you have an idea of what may be happening, but it’s very helpful and more objective to look at data points.”

Pontones said the data can give officials a “snapshot” of what their county looks like.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said he hears about Indiana’s drug problem everywhere in the state.

“This is the one issue where everyone wants to help. They just want to know how,” he said.

Jim McClelland, who Holcomb appointed to coordinate Indiana’s response to the opioid epidemic, is expected to issue his first report Thursday.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com

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