Health department hands out free drug disposal bags at Indiana State Fair

Regional News

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana State Health Department is at the Indiana State Fair this week offering Hoosiers a free, safe way to dispose of drugs as part of an effort to deal with the state’s opioid epidemic.

Jane Decius, of Indianapolis, knows exactly how much Indiana’s drug epidemic hurts: Three of her nephews battling opioid addictions took their own lives.

“It hits home,” Decius said. “It’s not just the kids, it’s the families, the survivors that are the ones.”

She’s not alone. The ISDH says there were over 1,800 drug overdose deaths in Indiana in 2017. The primary driver is opioids.

Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control shows overdose deaths decreased 12.9% in 2018.

“Substance use disorder in general is a large issue. Anything we can do like the medication disposal bags to help reduce any type of overdose is beneficial,” said Katie Hokanson, the director of Trauma and Injury Prevention with the ISDH.

In partnership with RALI Indiana, the ISDH has 10,000 kits to give away for free to anyone during the state fair.

“One bag can process 45 pills or 6 ounces of fluid or 6 patches” Hokanson said.

You just tear it open, pour water in, put your drugs inside, let it dissolve, then throw it away.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Corky Koch of Brownsburg, who was at the fair. “I know we have outdated pain medication we need to dispose of.

On Monday, they had given away about 200 bags.

“Unfortunately, whether it’s children that are accidentally getting into medication or somebody that’s struggling with substance use disorder, having these bags will save lives,” Hokanson said.

In Decius’ eyes, the bags ought to help somebody.

“They absolutely will if you use it. Or if they don’t think they want to use it or don’t need it, give it to someone else.”

You can get as many of the free bags as you want from the state fair through Sunday.

You can also request one from anywhere in the state here.

If you or someone you know needs help with addiction, call 211, or call the Indiana Addiction Hotline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

You can also find help here, from Indiana’s Next Level Recovery program.

You can also get treatment information from Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration.

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